Michael Horth, a senior mechanical engineering major from Akron, Ohio, puts the finishing touches on one of the robotic football players.
Michael Horth, a senior mechanical engineering major from Akron, Ohio, puts the finishing touches on one of the robotic football players.

ADA - Students from Ohio Northern University's T.J. Smull College of Engineering have created a team of robotic football players to compete in the fifth annual University of Notre Dame robotic football competition on Saturday, April 6, at 7 p.m. in the Ohio Northern University King Horn Sports Center. The event is free and open to the public.

As part of their senior capstone project during the 2012-13 academic year, a team of ONU students manufactured 12 robotic players (quarterbacks, centers, linemen, running backs, wide receivers and a kicker) with funding from the University of Notre Dame. These players will compete in an eight-on-eight, modified-rules football game, which tests the skills of each robot specific to their position, against robots built by Notre Dame students. Equipped with sensors that flash different colors when the mechatronic players are hit, tackled or injured, the robots are roughly the size of desktop printers. The game itself consists of two 15-minute halves and a 10-minute halftime.

Despite the air of a sporting event, the game is actually a display of the accumulated knowledge of sophisticated engineering concepts. The technical challenges of designing and building the robot football players deepens student understanding of and ability to implement engineering principles. The participants will take the skills they acquire during the project and use them in their careers as engineers, applying the same principles to develop, among other things, intelligent prostheses, biomedical devices and electromechanical systems in general.