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slides: TouchTomorrow Brings Crowds, Robots To WPI

Monday, June 18, 2012


 NASA's first Centennial Challenge brought thousands of people from all over the state and beyond. In celebration of this landmark event, WPI, the first university in the nation to offer a bachelors degree in robotics engineering, hosted TouchTomorrow, a family festival with a variety of demonstrations and hands-on activities for kids of all ages.

Eleven teams qualified for NASA's Centennial Challenge, which ultimately had five teams compete for a $1.5 million prize. Three teams were privately funded; and three teams were university based. 

The Centennial Challenge was a two part challenge; teams that successfully completed Round 1 were eligible to compete in Round 2.  For Round 1, teams will were to have their autonomous robot retrieve a sample hidden in the park, under space-like conditions, and return to the launch pad.  Unfortunately, none of the robots were able to perform the sample retrieval task and no team was able to advance to Round 2. 



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SpacePRIDE was the first of five teams that competed for up to $1.5 million in prize money from NASA.  

The team, which is made up of partners Chris Williamson and Robert Moore, is based in Graniteville, SC.  It is one of three privately funded teams that participated in the Centennial Challenge.  

Unfortunately for SpacePRIDE, the robot was unable to retrieve the sample hidden in Institute Park within the required 15 minutes.  

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Rocker Bogie

To demonstrate the Rocker Bogie technology that enables robots to maneuver over craters, NASA employee Sam Ortega has it roll across a line of of kids.  

The term Rocker Bogie refers to the suspension system on different robots, and it is currently in place on the Mars Exploration Rover.

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Last Minute FIx

Sanchit Arora makes some last minute adjustments to his team's robot before it participated in the first round of competition held at Institute Park.  

To advance to the second round, Envoy 2 had to be completely automated and able to retrieve an object  hidden within the fenced in area within 15 minutes.

The robot had to perform the task under space conditions, which meant that GPS and a compass were not available for navigation.

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Bottle Rockets

Avi Sarid, 9 of Shrewsbury, takes his turn at seeing how far he can make his bottle rocket fly.

The rockets were launched by jumping on a soda bottle, which created enough pressure to send the rockets soaring across the lawn.

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Father of Modern Rocketry

Matthew Levine, 12, poses with a cardboard cutout of Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry.

In 1926, Dr. Goddard launched the first liquid fuel rocket while at his Aunt Effie's farm in Auburn.  The rocket, which he named "Nell" rose 41 feet in the air, traveled 184 feet and was airborne for 25 seconds.

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Paper Airplanes

Paper airplanes are an excellent and fun way to learn about aerodynamics.  

In February, John Collins set a new world record for the longest paper airplane flight, flying his plane a total distance of 226 feet, 10 inches.  It took him four years to build the record breaking paper airplane.  

Here, Leilani Ford, 3, winds up to fly her plane.  

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Quality Control

Quality control is an essential part of engineering.

To understand the role of quality control, Jacob, 11, and Alana Lorusso, 8,  checked a package of Skittles to see if it really had the same number of each color candy, like the manufacturer says it is supposed to.  

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NAO's the Time

NAO, pronounced "now", is a humanoid robot designed for educational and research applications.  NAO can bend, move, pick things up and recite poetry, which it does with appropriate body language.  

Produced by Alderbaran Robotics, NAO incorporates all aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning.  


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