Welcome to Robotathon 2016!
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So What is Robotathon?
Robotathon is an annual event held every Fall semester at the University of Texas at Austin by the UT IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS [răz]). This competition is essentially a two month long bootcamp for robotics culminating in a large, sports-like competition that pits each teams’ robot against each other in a tournament style battle-to-the-death (not really) for glory and honor (and bragging rights). It is designed for both robotics veterans and newcomers alike. Each Fall, around 100 people arranged in teams of 6 participate in this competition developed entirely in-house by RAS Leaders to be entertaining, challenging, and relevant to important basic concepts in robotics.
What is this year’s competition?
This year’s competition is Pokemon RAS! Inspired by the popular game Pokemon GO, you must design a robot to pick up Pokeballs and capture Pokemon in the field! The field is designed to encourage wall-following and line-following to guide you to the balls and the Pokemon. You can find the rules in this Google Document.
When does Robotathon happen?
The kickoff for Robotathon 2016 happened on September 27th; this was when teams were assigned and began to receive their parts. Starting in early September and lasting up until the competition, we will hold sets of weekly workshops covering topics from mechanical design to advanced algorithms for robotics. In addition, once Robotathon gets rolling, weekly checkpoints will due for points that will count towards your final competition score. Robotathon itself is held in late November: the Monday of Thanksgiving Week in fact!
Checkpoints are a set of weekly ‘tasks’ that help keep teams on track for the competition. They are due by the beginning of Saturday (12:00 AM Saturday Morning/Friday Night), and while they are not required, they help you earn points towards your final competition score! They include tasks such as design proposals, documentation, PCB soldering, and algorithm implementation.
Starting in early September, various leaders in RAS will hold talks twice a week (Wednesday/Thursday) in the evening on topics in which they are experts. These cover various facets of robotics, and the first three are designed to help everyone build a solid foundation for Robotathon before it starts at the end of the month. Once the competition starts, workshops will help teach topics related to the competition and they will provide an open forum for any questions. Each team also has an upperclassmen mentor from RAS to help guide them along the way.
What do I need to know to participate?
Absolutely nothing! All you need is a open mind and a desire to learn. While it is a competition, above all this is a learning experience designed to help teach robotics to those that want to learn. In addition, all participants are generally on the same level, because this competition is restricted to newcomers to RAS, which happens to be primarily freshmen!
Who can compete?
Around 100 students are selected among those who sign up to participate in teams of 6 people. Each team is assigned a mentor who is an upperclassmen that has been through the competition before; however, we design a new competition every year for this event, so they won’t be able to give you the optimal solution from experience! As mentioned, this competition is aimed for those new to college robotics, so students are only allowed to compete once. Students that wish to help out in future years then become mentors!
How do I sign up?
In addition, you may have noticed that it said we select around 100 people to participate. This event always has a bunch of people that are interested, and while we try to take as many people as we can, we don’t always have the resources to hold everyone. We use the initial workshops and general meetings to gauge interest, so make sure to keep an eye out for them this Fall!
First General Meeting
RAS’s first general meeting, which covered Robotathon and everything we do as a student org at the University of Texas at Austin was held on Tuesday, August 30th, at 7:00PM in ECJ 1.202.
UT RAS is the organization that puts on this event. We are entirely student operated, and are also one of the most prominent organizations in Cockrell School of Engineering because we are primarily a project based organization. This means that in addition to our awesome social events, there is almost always something being built in our office during the academic year.
We frequently demo for UT open houses, local STEM events, and incoming engineering freshmen, so you may have seen us around already!
Do I have to be a UT student to participate/attend?
Yes. This is currently an event for only UT students. In addition, you can not have participated in a previous year’s Robotathon.
Does this cost anything?
Yes. To participate in Robotathon, you must pay RAS membership dues ($15) and a fee for parts ($20) for the semester, totaling $35.
How much time does this take?
The time frame for the event is about two months; but participating in the event is requires about the same amount of time as a light class. The big difference here is that Robotathon, unlike many first semester classes, is very hands on and practical event. By participating in Robotathon, you will learn a large amount of information that you won’t even touch on in classes until Sophomore, Junior, or even Senior year. It does require some effort to be put forth, but it is very much worth it.
Any further questions about Robotathon or RAS?
Our office is in AGH 134. During the summer, people may or may not be in the office at any given time due to Summer commitments, but stop by and check if the door is open!
For any addition questions, concerns, clarifications, etc, feel free to contact us. Occasionally, we will update the FAQ with relevant questions, so check back later to see if there is more information.
- Shantanu Kanvinde (President): ras_president (at) utlists (dot) utexas (dot) edu
- Brian Wilmarth (Robotathon Committee Chair): bwilmarth (at) me (dot) com
Robotathon officially starts on kickoff, which is Sep. 27 at 7pm in ECJ 1.202. Kickoff is when we announce the competition for the year and explain the logistics of the competition. Before and after kickoff, there will be several workshops given by our members to teach aspiring roboticists the fundamentals of the craft. Workshops are every Wednesday and Thursday from 8-9 in RLM 7.104. The Wednesday and Thursday talks are identical, so there is no need to attend both times.
|Sep. 14, 15||Robot Design|
|Sep. 21, 22||Programming 1|
|Sep. 28, 29||Materials, Manufacturing, and Project Management|
|Oct. 5, 6||Soldering and Electronics|
|Oct. 12, 13||Programming 2|
|Oct. 19, 20||Version Control and Github|
|Oct. 26, 27||Libraries + RASLib|
|Nov. 2, 3||Basic Controls|
|Nov. 9, 10||Advanced Controls|
|Nov. 16, 17||Review and Prepare for Competition|