Two Cal State L.A. engineering teams finished first, second places at regional competition
CSULAÂs ÂmicromiceÂ are quick, smartÂnavigating further in a challenging maze
Cal State L.A.'s award-winning (r-l) ÂDigital CogsÂ micromouse and "SuperDuper MicroMouse."
L-r: Professor Jianyu Dong joins Yuan Huang, Jeong Lim and Lee Sawyer at the annual MicroMouse Competition's awards presentation.
Isaac Almaraz (l) and Peter Palacios (r) accepting their award at the annual MicroMouse Competition.
Cal State L.A.Âs engineering students donÂt ÂmouseÂ around when it comes to building and designing robots. At the recent 2012 MicroMouse Competition, two CSULA teams outperformed four other teams by navigating the most number of blocks within a 10-minute timeframe.
Designed by Yuan Huang, Jeong Lim and Lee Sawyer, ÂDigital CogsÂ micromouse won first place, whereas the ÂSuperDuper MicroMouseÂÂdesigned by Isaac Almaraz and Peter PalaciosÂreceived second place in the competition.
ÂThe maze was so challenging that none of the participating teams was able to find the center within the time constraint,Â said faculty adviser Jianyu Dong, professor of electrical and computer engineering at CSULA. ÂHowever, the CSULA micromice were smart enough to avoid the traps in the maze and navigated further.Â
A micromouse is a mini-robotic rodent that can automatically navigate a 16x16-unit maze quickly with unknown topology with the goal of finding the center without being trapped. Each robotic rodent had a microcontroller (small computer) as its Âbrain,Â stepper or DC motors as its Âlegs,Â and infrared sensors as its Âeyes.Â
While incorporating expertise in control systems, computer engineering, power and electronics, both CSULA teams configured their own algorithms to solve the maze.
According to Dong, ÂThe MicroMouse Competition, sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Region 6 Southern Area, is a traditional design challenge, yet it is still considered a very challenging design project for undergraduate students.Â
To succeed in the project, students from different specialization areas should work together as a team effectively,Â explained Dong. ÂThere are many practical factors that the students need to consider to make their design work in reality.Â
Huang, who was responsible for developing the maze-solving algorithm for his award-winning team, said, ÂIÂm pleased that the effort we put in this MicroMouse project is recognized and rewarded. And IÂd like to extend my appreciation to the people who supported us.Â
An electrical engineering major, Huang is planning to also be involved in next yearÂs MicroMouse Competition. He said, ÂI hope to further improve the performance of the micromouse.Â
At CSULA, the MicroMouse project has evolved from a competition to a multi-tiered program that supports hands-on design practice for both seniors and juniors. Seniors also organized workshop series to introduce robotics design to other interested students. In addition, CSULAÂs IEEE chapter hosts an annual Junior Robotics Competition to engage third-year or younger students in the areas of robotics and to motivate them to participate in the MicroMouse Competition.
Almaraz, an electrical engineering major in charge of controls and straight-correctness for his teamÂs micromouse, explained, ÂIn order for the robot to succeed in its goal of finding the center of a maze, the mouse must traverse the maze going straight without hitting the walls. I believe I was successful in completing this goal, since the robot did not crash into any of the walls during the competition.Â
ÂBut, the credit goes to my team that made our victory possible,Â Almaraz said. ÂIt was an awesome experience working with my teammates and learning from each other.Â
Find out more at the following links:
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers:
- MicroMouse Competition information:
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (CSULA student chapter):
- Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at CSULA:
- College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at CSULA: