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ASME members pick up life lessons at E-FEST competition

ASME members at competition

Winning is fun, but sometimes you need to lose in order to win. It may sound tough, but there are many lessons to be learned from a loss. A group of 21 students from the UIC chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) learned a lot during the recent ASME E-FEST North conference at Michigan State University.

The UIC students participated in the Student Design Competition, which changes every year. For this conference, the competition was called The Pick-and-Place Race, and it is designed to challenge the students’ imagination and technical skills. The teams had to design and build a robot that can quickly and carefully secure a variety of different balls, which were balancing on tube stands in the middle of a flat playing surface. The single remotely-controlled robot had to quickly collect as many balls as possible and place them in a collection area without the balls falling off the stands. UIC entered four robots into the competition.

“Unfortunately, the four robots did not win,” said Madeleine Yuh, president of the ASME UIC Chapter and a student in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. “I’m sure that everyone who went agrees that it was a good experience, being able to see what the competition was like, how other schools had solved the same problems that we had solved, and seeing what we could take away from their designs, as did other schools with our robots.”

With the most robots entered into the competition, the UIC students opened the door to talk with the other teams about the variety of methods implemented. They discussed design processes, the problems they faced, and how they fixed them.

Along with the networking and learning experiences, the team picked up some life lessons that were more than mechanical.

“The biggest challenge of the competition would be some of the small details that were not communicated well with the competitors” said Yuh. “Some of the rules were switched around, and communication with the judges was difficult. One of our teams was not scored correctly, and so they could not proceed to the next day. By the time we found out, it was too late. Despite this, we were able to push through the difficulties experienced.”

The difficulties the students faced led to one of the most important lessons — the positive environment they created for one another.

“The team atmosphere was very supportive,” said Yuh. “I think that everyone worked very well together. From the feedback that we got from our teams, I would say that everyone is eager to participate in SDC next year.”

The conference was made up of more than competitions. It offered talks about different topics concerning the engineering world, and Boeing’s CEO of Astrobotics was the keynote speaker.

“The event was great! It was really cool to see all of the other robots,” exclaimed Yuh. “We also got the chance to look at the other competitions at ASME E-fest such as the Human Powered Vehicle Competition and the IAM3D competition. All were interesting. There were also several workshops that students were able to participate in and some students were able to do some networking with the sponsors of the event.”

Campus Support

The student organization hosts professionals on the UIC campus to provide industry insight, networking opportunities, and potential internships for its members throughout the year. During the spring semester, ASME hosted Oriental Motor, a company that specialize in providing the optimal motion systems to meet the widest market demands, and Dwyer, which specializes in designing and manufacturing innovative controls, sensors, and instrumentation solutions.

Apart from bringing professionals to the UIC campus, the organization works with its network connections to provide learning opportunities at local companies. In January, Design Engine offered free Creo lessons at its Chicago headquarters in the Ravenswood neighborhood.

These lessons provided the students with an excellent opportunity to add another software to their resume and get instruction from some of the best in the industry. Design Engine also offered the students a free version of Creo.

Learn more about the student organization at