Dr Geoff V. Merrett
www.geoffmerrett.co.uk
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D4 2012 (SAILORS): Football theme in an Olympic year

11th June 2012

One of the football-playing robots
One of the football-playing robots
Second-year Electronics students in ECS had a fittingly Olympic theme for this year's D4 design exercise, traditionally a very competitive culmination to practical work in the first two years. Student teams were set the challenge of building an intelligent robot capable of playing football without human input to take part in the fictional 'Robot Olympics'. The students had only three weeks to design, build, test, and demonstrate a complete electronic system. Pressure on the students was intense as they worked round the clock to design their intelligent robots. Against a set of tough specifications, the students worked in groups, partitioning a large task amongst the individual team members. The students were expected to show initiative, creativity and innovation, to deploy good time management and trouble-shooting skills, and to undertake technical and market research, costing and budget analysis.

"Teams were named after countries, with my team being Team France," said Arinze Ekwosimba, studying MEng Electronic Engineering with Wireless Communications. "We had effectively two weeks to design and implement our prototype - it was undoubtedly the most stressful, challenging, draining and demanding part of my degree thus far!"

"The D4 design exercise is the culmination of two years of hands-on lab experience, requiring students to apply all of the skills and knowledge that they have learnt to solve a complex design problem," said Dr Geoff Merrett, lecturer and coordinator of first-year labs.

During the final judging session, Dr Matt Sacker of BAE Systems Detica congratulated the students on the quality of what they had achieved. "The D4 design exercise provides students with a real-world experience of electronic system design. The exercise matches a product's development from requirements capture through to prototype development", he said. "This provides Electronics students with valuable practical experience that gives them a head-start when applying for jobs and working in industry".

The winning team members were: Bryony Howard, Zachary Jelley, Henry Lovett, Thomas Smith, James Cooke, and Lewis Russell. Each received £100 from BAE Systems Detica as their prize. The exercise was run by Dr Geoff Merrett, Professor Steve Gunn and Dr Rob Maunder, with support from Dave Oakley, Jeff Hooker and David Kemmish.

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