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Dunwoody College of Technology hosts robotic snowplow competition

Updated: January 19, 2020 09:23 AM

For the first time, Dunwoody College of Technology hosted the annual Autonomous Snowplow Competition. The event draws colleges from around North America and is in its 10th year. 

The competition is simple, but what the teams have to do to get there is far from it. From beginning to end, part to part and code by code, everything is done by students. In short, teams build robots that are capable of plowing snow — a fitting competition for this weekend. The competition took place in Dunwoody's parking lot, and the robots plowed real snow.

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E.J. Dangle, Dunwoody's dean of robotics and manufacturing, watched from the sideline as his students competed. 

"This is really, really cool," Dangle said. "These students have been working on these plows since the last three months."

Dangle says this gives them a unique, career-like experience and a chance to get away from the textbooks and chalkboards.

"This is cool because it's a collaboration beyond just one department at Dunwoody," Dangle said.

"For us, this involves students from our electronics program, our engineering department, our robotics program, our welding program 
and our machining program. So they not only program and wire, but we've got welders on the team that helped construct and build this machine." 

Dunwoody has done well in the past. Just last year it had teams come in first and third place. 

A first-time robot snowplow this year from the college was called "Wechuge," a name for a mythical man-eating spirit.

"It's very rewarding for us. I've been doing all my testing indoors, but to actually bring it outside and have it work is amazing to see," Donald Posterick, Wechuge's lead programmer said.

This is a resume booster, senior Hayley Lazaard said. She had a hand in Wechuge's construction and plans on including that on her resume when she graduates in May.

"One of the best things about it is that we did it in-house, so it's our robot completely," Lazaard said. 

The results of the competition were: 1st, U of M, 2nd, Dunwoody, 3rd, Dunwoody, 4th Dunwoody (Wechuge). 

If you think you, or someone you know, would like to build a snow plowing robot, click here.

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Ben Henry

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