April 14, 2010

Six IEEE Student Branch Members Bring Home Trophies

Best Paper winners

ECE students Ryan A. Clark and Andrew Hollowell won the Best Paper award at the Region 6 Southwest Area meeting of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in Phoenix on April 10. At the same meeting, four ECE students placed second in the annual Micromouse robotics contest: Anthony Bentley, Ben Schaefer, David Steidley and Wes Ross.

ECE Professor Rafael Fierro, the faculty advisor for the IEEE Student Branch at UNM, and Dr. Ray Byrne, IEEE Albuquerque Section chair, also attended the meeting in support of the teams.

UNM's "LoboBot" Micromouse

Clark and Hollowell's paper, which is titled Flexible Implementation of Rigid Solar Cell Technologies, tackles this topic: "As a source of clean, remote energy, photovoltaic (PV) systems are an important area of research. The majority of solar cells are rigid materials with negligible flexibility. Flexible PV systems possess many advantages, such as being transportable and incorporable on diverse structures. Amorphous silicon and organic PV systems are flexible; however, they lack the efficiency and lifetime of rigid cells. There is also a need for PV systems that are light weight, especially in space and flight applications. We propose a solution to this problem by arranging rigid cells onto a flexible substrate creating efficient, light weight, and flexible devices."

Their paper will represent the Southwest Area at IEEE's regional meeting later this year.

Micromouse Team

The Micromouse competition is a robotics contest held annually in each area (there are five areas in Region 6, and six regions in the U.S.). The UNM team constructed and programmed a "LoboBot" during March and April in preparation for the competition. In it, each team's robot must autonomously navigate its way to the center of a maze that isn't shown to the teams until the contest begins. Each team is ranked on distance travelled, then on quickest running time. LoboBot placed second behind the robot from UC San Diego. UCSD is ranked #17 in U.S. News & World Report's EE graduate program rankings, and it has an ambitious micromouse program. This was the UNM team's first-time entry in the micromouse competition.

The ECE-UNM team is seeking funding from IEEE Region 6 to construct a full-sized, 9'x 9' reconfigurable maze that will support UNM's micromouse project and enable UNM to host the competition at future area meetings.