Pellissippi State student robotics team finishes regional competition in top quarter

Pellissippi State's robotics team traveled to Florida and competed March 15-18 in the IEEE SoutheastCon 2012 Hardware Competition, returning home with 13th place. Pictured are (l-r) Carl Mallette, team advisor; Marcus Monday, Nathan Wolfe, Amber Dyer, Jeremy Kelso, and Erik Speyer, the student robotics team; and Kenneth Swayne, team mentor.

The robotics team from Pellissippi State Community College faced off with 53 other teams in Orlando, Fla., March 15-18 and came home satisfied.

The team competed in the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) SoutheastCon 2012 Hardware Competition. Contenders included 51 four-year institutions and only two other community colleges.

Pellissippi State took 13th place, defeating the other two-year schools and dozens of top-ranked engineering institutions, among them, the University of Florida, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Clemson University.

The robotics team was led by Carl Mallette and Kenneth Swayne, both of whom teach in the Electrical Engineering concentration. Mallette is the student advisor for the team and is the IEEE East Tennessee section chair for 2012-13. Swayne served as a mentor.

All teams were required to bring a robot that could navigate a course with four stations. The robots had to measure voltage and the difference between two wave signals, temperature, and capacitance. They had four minutes to complete the course as many times as possible. The robots competed in three rounds, with points given for each correct measure and deducted for incorrect measures.

“We were very pleased with the performance of our robot in being able to endure real-world conditions,” said Erik Speyer, team leader and a student in Mallette’s Robotics and Automation course last semester. “Its ability to make correct decisions allowed us to beat out numerous top-ranked engineering universities. This really emphasizes the caliber of education Pellissppi provides its students.”

“The students tell me that they understood so much more of what they’ve learned in other classes by working on this project,” Mallette said.