New Mexico Tech Mobile Robot Kit (NMT-MRK)
SOCORRO, N.M., March 28, 2002 -- The second annual New Mexico ROBORAVE high-school robotics competition will take place from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, on the New Mexico Tech campus, with about 35 teams from New Mexico, El Paso, and Juarez high schools scheduled to compete.

Participating teams comprised of four or five high school students each will put their autonomous (not remotely controlled) robots to the test by programming the pie-plate-sized devices to follow a maze of black lines laid out on a white, four-foot by eight-foot sheet of foam-core board and then deliver a ping-pong ball to a receptacle atop a small tower -- all within an allowable three-minute period.

Most of the team-designed robots competing in ROBORAVE were constructed with basic materials from Lego Mindstorm Kits or New Mexico Tech Mobile Robot Kits (NMT-MRKs).

"The NMT-MRK is a small, yet robust, mobile robot kit that includes a microprocessor/microcontroller, proximity sensors, motors, interfacing electronics, and development software," says Stephen Bruder, associate professor of electrical engineering at New Mexico Tech and research scientist with the university's Robotics Research Group.

"The motherboard used in these kits -- the brains of the robot, if you will -- was entirely designed and constructed at New Mexico Tech," he adds.

Through a robotics outreach program initiated this past year at the state-supported research university, 20 NMT-MRKs were distributed to 20 high schools in and around New Mexico, with funding provided for the program by Tech President Daniel H. López and several of his vice presidents.

Almost all of the distributed NMT-MRKs will make it back to the Tech campus in the form of entries in the ROBORAVE competition.


"The purpose of starting up our robotics outreach program, as well as hosting robotics competitions such as ROBORAVE, is to encourage students at the high-school level to get actively involved in the type of activities that will eventually develop engineers for the future," Bruder says.

The robotics competition, most of which will take place in the New Mexico Tech Gymnasium, also will include a more static portion devoted to team presentations and portfolios, which will account for half of the possible points that teams can garner during the five-match contest.