Global Gadget Games
While sports fans around the globe were recovering from World Cup fever, another athletic tournament was focusing international attention on MIT. The players in MIT’s games, however, were robots.
Last August MIT hosted the International Design Contest, an annual event that brought students from England, Germany, Japan, Brazil, France, and South Korea to the Institute for a two-week challenge in engineering and international cooperation. “This contest represents the best and the brightest all the world has to offer,” says Alex Slocum ‘82, SM ‘83, PhD ‘85, the mechanical engineering professor who organized this year’s contest. Slocum is the lecturer for 2.007 (formerly known as 2.70), the MIT class on which the International Design Contest is modeled.
Top universities, including MIT, England’s University of Cambridge, and Japan’s Tokyo Institute of Technology, sent participants. Each student was assigned to one of eight multinational teams. Each team built a remote-control robot from a standard kit of raw materials. To communicate ideas, divide the labor, and build the robots, teammates had to overcome language and cultural barriers.
The machines competed in a tournament on the final day. Robots scored points by pushing balls into a bin and rotating an enormous vertical pendulum. The winning team consisted of Gary Hill of Germany, Julien Barrier of France, Alexandre Takeshi Ushima of Brazil, Eo Jin Park of South Korea, and MIT Course XVI junior Martin Jonikas.