News Release| CSULA, Cal State L.A.; Los Angeles, MicroMouse

Note to editors and news directors: To make arrangements for photos or interviews, please contact the CSULA Public Affairs office at (323) 343-3050.

Cal State L.A.’s mini robot navigates its way—without damaging the walls

MicroMouse Competition challenges students beyond the classroom

Los Angeles, CA – A robotic rodent designed by a team of Cal State L.A. engineering students placed first at the 2008 Intercollegiate MicroMouse Competition.

Teams sought to design and build small self-contained robots to navigate a maze from a corner to the center without crashing or damaging the walls. The winning robot should be able to negotiate its way to the center in the shortest amount of time or traverse the most number of squares in the maze.

Led by electrical engineering senior Jorge Lerma, the Cal State L.A. team successfully built a micromouse that navigated a 16- by 16-unit square maze autonomously. The machine used neither a remote control nor a combustion-energy source.

The robotic rodent had a microcontroller (small computer) as its “brain,” stepper or DC motors as its “legs,” and infrared sensors as its “eyes.” The team used a computer program to define the algorithm (the step-by-step instructions) for the robot to find its way.

Cal State L.A.’s winning team also includes mechanical engineering majors Eddy Perez, Art Dilanchian and Jeff Michaels, who built the driving systems of the micromouse.

According to Cal State L.A.’s IEEE faculty advisor Jane Dong, professor of electrical and computer engineering, “The collaboration with mechanical engineering definitely added value.”

In addition, electrical engineering majors Aras Pribadian, Rahul Maheshwari and William Dolorito helped to extend the scope of the project by involving a broad range of students in this valuable “real world” design experience.

The competition was hosted by CSU Long Beach in conjunction with its 2008 Kaleidoscope Festival.

For more information, call the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-4470.

A year of engineering triumphs

Earlier this year, a team of Cal State L.A. engineering students placed first in a concrete bowling ball competition at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Pacific Southwest Regional Conference; and another team designed a boundary-layer turbine that placed first in the University Category at the WESTEC 2008 Manufacturing Challenge cosponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Also, the U.S. News and World Report ranks Cal State L.A.’s engineering program among the nation’s best undergraduate programs. Cal State L.A. is the only public undergraduate (master’s-awarding) university in the greater Los Angeles area making the top of the list.

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Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 200,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.