August 5, 2020
PHOTO BY RYAN HORNE Second-year robotic and automation students watch with great interest as their self-designed cars race at the Cambridge campus on Dec. 9.

By RYAN HORNE 
 
A mini version of the Daytona 500 was on display at the Cambridge campus on Dec. 9.
Second-year robotic and automation students had the chance to strut their stuff when it came to their self-made robotic cars.  Teams faced off against each other to see which mighty machine could manoeuver the best around an oval track.  Students were able to buy any parts they required, but had to put it together with the skills and knowledge learned in class.
The cars weren’t remote controlled, so students spent close to 80 hours planning and troubleshooting their self-propelled cars that needed both speed and precision cornering.  Some cars were fast, some could turn on a dime while other cars wouldn’t move at all.  Robotics and automation professor, Chris Dobson, said there are so many things to consider when assembling such a complex design.      
“Something that looks fairly simple isn’t always so simple when you actually try to do it,” said Dobson.
Incorporating class material such as sensors, motors and drive systems to their robotic cars gives students the chance to learn in a practical manner according to Dobson.
“Those are the soft skills that they learn by having to implement something,” he said.
Not only did the victors receive bragging rights, but since it was the giving season, CSI sponsored a $1,000 donation to a local charity of their choice  
The winning team, who called themselves Aftermath, left the rest of the competition in the dust with their quick and sharp cornering car.  Scott Twynstra, a member of the team, said that the many hours spent planning and problem solving should really help when they leave college to start looking for a job.
“This is basically applied to everything we’ve learned so far,” he said.
Second- and third-place were taken by Mean Machine and Ace respectively.