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Robotics Club Shares Enthusiasm For Mechatronics

Club member working on connecting cirucits to demonstrate a prototype that will help someone who has fallen to raise themselves to standing

Mechanical engineering senior Daniel Teran demonstrates a prototype for The People Lifter, a device that uses a scissor lift mechanism that will help people who suffer from post-polio syndrome. Photo by Elena Polanco.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Build. Learn. Share. That’s the goal of the SJSU Robotics Club, currently consisting of twelve active members with majors in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science and business. Anyone can join though, says next semester’s club vice president, Daniel Teran.

“The goal is to get a variety of students from different majors and integrating those majors to build something,” Teran said.

The latest innovation is the club’s Line Follower Robot, a robot built from club members’ recycled remote control circuit boards and infrared emitters and receivers. According to Teran, a mechanical engineering senior, the built-in microprocessor reads the value from the receivers and senses the line on the dry erase board, which allows the robot to follow it. A Wall-E-inspired erasing mechanism attached to the back of the robot shifts back and forth to wipe away the line it follows on the path. The robot took the club members about a week to make and was a group effort.

“The coolest thing is learning things from other members,” Teran said. “We have members from electrical engineering who showed us how to put the circuits together. We learn a thing or two from each other, which is probably what we will be doing in the real world, working in the field.”

Students in the club are able to get credit for the robots they build for the project portions of their Machine Design (ME 154) and Mechatronics (ME 106) classes.

Some of the club’s project ideas come from Project Enable, an academic program that sponsors SJSU students to build, modify, and invent devices for the disabled in the community. Project Enable sponsors two students each semester to get credit for ME 197, a course that allows engineering students to complete community service as part as their graduation requirements.

“We are trying to connect students with people who have disabilities, helping the less-abled,“ said Project Enable’s founder Krishna Seshan.

According to Seshan, all of the designs are “reusable, off the shelf items, that have been put to innovative use.” Clients are able to play a part in the design and process of their robotic and mechatronic solutions.

One such prototype is the Intelligent Cane (I-Cane), developed by former president and founder of the Robotics Club, Thai Saleem. The I-Cane, winning the most technical award at the Neat Ideas Fair, brings better alertness to the blind by allowing them to sense approaching objects anywhere from three to five feet. Unlike a regular cane, the I-Cane has a built-in circuit board, sensory device and buzzer that gives off a warning when an object is near.

“My idea is that every blind person is able to have one, because it is very cheap to make,” Saleem said.

The I-Cane is taken to the Santa Clara Blind Center every week, where Project Enable and students get feedback on and support for their designs.

Other projects the Robotics Club and Project Enable are working on include a touring robot that can take a tour of the SJSU campus when it is trained, a solar water purifier for third world countries, and a people lifter that will help someone fallen down to raise themselves to standing.