Students wow judges in Siemens Digital Innovation Zone robotic arm competition

Judges were blown away by the ingenuity and creativity of four student teams who programmed a robot arm to navigate complex courses in a recent competition held at the Siemens Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ).

A student using a robot arm in a competition

The teams, all from the University’s Faculty of Engineering, used the DIZ’s state-of-art equipment and the skills they’ve developed in the collaborative facility to design, develop and demonstrate a pre-programmed course for the robot arm.

Students put their knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD) to the test, using Siemens Solid Edge software and 3D printers to create unique components and obstacles for their robot's route. They then meticulously charted their courses by programming the robotic arm.

The finalists' technical skills were matched only by their creativity and showmanship, with courses ranging from a simulated astronaut landing a rocket after a mission to an obstacle course featuring the team’s favourite childhood characters.

The robot arm in action

Thanks to partner Siemens’ support, the four finalist teams competed for a prize pot of £500 for the winner, £300 for the runner up and £200 for third place. Ten teams originally entered the competition.

Winning teams

1st place - Team Astro (Luca Realmuto and Subin Pariyar from the Department of Mechanical Engineering)

Team Astro celebrating their win

“Having an idea and seeing it through from the drawing board to the real world was a really enjoyable experience. Flora and the DIZ team made learning new software such as Solid Edge and the robotic arm really quick and easy, which helped to showcase the creative design we were trying to achieve.”

Luca Realmuto, Team Astro

2nd place - Team Hopes and Dreams (Sarwin Nathan Sunthara Lingam, Shreyas Mottur Venugopal and Musaib Charkey from the Department of Mechanical Engineering)

3rd place - Team DJLJ (Lars Galvez, Jo Xit Fong, Jerome Morelos and Dawid Klos from the Department of Mechanical Engineering)

4th place - Team RNA (Andrew Murugu and Robin Kosgei from the Departments of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering and Mechanical Engineering)

Dave Moss, Head of Siemens Digital Innovation, said: “This was our first competition in the DIZ and it was a fantastic example of how the space can open doors to new technologies for students.

“Along with my fellow judges, I was blown away by the standard of what the students achieved. I’ve not had that much fun at work in quite some time!

“We'd like to thank all the students who participated in the competition for their dedication and creativity, which perfectly embodies the collaborative spirit we foster in the DIZ.

“Congratulations to our winners and runners-up for their fantastic demonstrations. We look forward to seeing you again at the DIZ.”

Students competing in the robot arm competition

Flora Hippisley Cox, a final-year Mechanical Engineering student and Siemens intern, who designed and coordinated the competition, said: “It's been rewarding to see the students collaborate and tackle challenges together, demonstrating exceptional teamwork and growth throughout the competition. Their individual and communal flair made this a truly enjoyable experience.”

The DIZ, the only facility of its kind in the world, is developed in partnership with Siemens and is run by an undergraduate team from the University. The zone acts as a ‘living lab’ where students can learn to use cutting-edge technologies, from edge computing to digital twin simulation, and apply it to their studies.

Located in the Heartspace in the University’s iconic Mappin building, the DIZ provides easy access to equipment and facilities with support from Siemens engineers and a team of trained student Digital Advisors.

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