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Two student-engineering teams win international challenges

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

News Topics: engineering

Two UT Arlington student-engineering teams captured first-place honors at the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong.

Isura Ranatunga, left, and Shweta Hardas

Isura Ranatunga, left, and Shweta Hardas, members of Team Orion.

Members of UTA's Microrobotics Team

From left are Devendra Kashudhan, Sumit Kumar Das, Joshua Baptist, Jiwan Ghimire, Surya Pachabhaiya and Sudip Rimal, members of UTA's Microrobotics Team.

The ICRA is the flagship academic conference for robotics. The event drew 2,000 in attendance from around the world.

Isura Ranatunga, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering; Sandesh Gowda and Shweta Hardas, both master’s candidates in electrical engineering; competed in the inaugural 2014 Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technology Challenge as Team Orion and accurately located more land mines through their mine detection code than any other team in the challenge. The team won $1,000.

The Husky robot on which the humanitarian challenge was completed was located in Portugal.

First, teams looked and located land mines in a simulation environment. After that, they deployed computer code for the actual robot that detected the landmines. The land mines weren’t real land mines but metallic objects with a similar detection signature.

In the other challenge, the UT Arlington Microrobotics Team was challenged to move triangles from one part of a millimetric-size field to another. The triangles could have represented kidney stones in the challenge, team members said. Teams were judged on their ability to assemble these triangles in precise patterns.

Jiwan Ghimire, an electrical engineering undergraduate, was captain of the team that included Sumit Das, a master’s candidate in electrical engineering; Greg Martin, Surya B. Pachabhaiya, Devendra Kashudhan, Sudip Rimal, all electrical engineering undergraduates; Caleb Nothnagle and Stephen Savoie, UT Arlington Research Institute research scientists; and Joshua Baptist, a Next Gen Systems tech assistant.

Dan Popa, associate professor of electrical engineering, said the microrobotics team was primarily comprised of undergraduate students but competed against teams that included post-doctoral fellows, academic researchers and professional engineers.

“They’ve made improvements each year and shown those improvements under the deadline pressure of finishing before the challenge is over,” Popa said of the UT Arlington teams.

The teams were supported by The University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute in Fort Worth, which funded the students’ travel and related fees for the Hong Kong conference, L-3 Communications, the National Science Foundation and by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.

About UT Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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