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Arguelles Climbs to Victory In 2.70 ‘Mech Everest’ Contest

By Karen E. Robinson

After six rounds of competition, David Arguelles ’01 beat out over 130 students to become the champion of “Mech Everest,” this year’s 2.70 Design Competition.

The contest is the culmination of the Design and Engineering I (2.007) taught by Professor Alexander H. Slocum ’82.

Kurtis G. McKenney ’01, who finished in second place, and third place finisher Christopher K. Harper ’01 were separated only by a tie-breaker based upon time.

The object of Mech Everest was to design a robot to travel up a steepening ramp and drop hockey pucks at the top. Students were given kits of materials to use, and were allowed to provide only incidental items such as washers, bolts, and lubricant.

The ramps were divided into three segments at 15, 30, and 45 degree inclines with a hole at the end of each incline. Robots scored points by dropping the pucks into these holes and scored more points for pucks dropped into higher holes. The course was designed by Roger S. Cortesi ’99, a student of Slocum.

Some robots used suction to keep their treads from slipping down the table, some clung to the walls bordering the table, and some shot grappeling hooks past the table to help pull themselves. The four finalists’ robots were fairly simple, and McKenney attributed his success to the fact that he “kept it simple.”

Arguelles, along with McKenney, Harper and Justin W. Raade ’01, who took fourth place, will travel to Japan next year to compete in an international design competition. Two additional students who will later be selected will compete as well.

Last-minute addition brings victory

Each robot could carry up to ten pucks to drop in the holes. Students could request an additional ten pucks which could not be carried in the robot body. Arguelles put these in a light wire contraption pulled by his robot, which he added “last Thursday, the day before ship date.”

At the lowest hole, the trailer dumped the extra pucks, and those that fell in the hole scored one point each. This was added to points amassed by the pucks that dropped into the top hole, which scored five points each. Arguelles was the only student to score above 50 points and his 58 was the evening’s high.

Only three students designed robots which used the extra pucks, and of these only Aguelles’s scored, said Head Undergraduate Assistant Kristin A. Jugenheimer ’99.

Aguelles’s trailer required no additional controls, and was a “simple mechanical solution requiring no electrical engineering,” Slocum said.

McKenney attributed his place to the fact that he “kept it simple” as well.

“I love this class; it was great,” Aguelles said.

McKenney agreed that the class was “lots of fun.”

Of the contest runs, Aguelles said “it was really scary until the finals,” when he saw that everything was working. “I’d only driven the trailer twice,” he said.

Justin W. Weir ’01 helped Aguelles practice driving his robot “nearly every day last week,” Weir said.