The San Diego State University Mechatronics Club trumped more than three dozen teams at the annual Robosub Competition, held last weekend in Point Loma.
The competition — which advances the development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles by challenging engineers to perform realistic missions in an underwater environment — showcased high schools and colleges from around the globe.
Competing against high-caliber engineering schools, including the California Institute of Technology, Washington State and the University of Iowa, SDSU’s Mechatronics Club was able to score the most points by successfully navigating through an underwater obstacle course.
‘We didn't know what to expect going into it, but once they announced the second place team at the awards banquet, we knew we were going to win,” said Maryann Ibrahim, a senior computer engineering major. “It was an amazing feeling because this is the first time a team from San Diego has ever made it to the finals, or won first place in the 18 years this competition has taken place.”
Defying the odds
The sub — which the team affectionately dubbed ‘Defiance’ — got its name because the team was initially wary of how well it could perform.
“Going into the competition it seemed like everything was stacked against us,” Ibrahim said. “We didn’t have all the materials we needed; we didn’t have a lot of time to test it in the water; we were almost disqualified because our sub was close to the weight limit. We named the sub Defiance because we wanted to defy our expectations and prove that we could win.”
And that they did.
Thanks to software designed by Austin Owens, a senior mechanical engineering major and president of the Mechatronics club, the Robosub was able to successfully identify challenges presented by the obstacle course through superior image processing technology.
“This is helpful for us to gain real-world experience,” Ibrahim said. “With this type of technology available, it will allow engineers and scientists to map the terrains of unexplored regions of lakes and oceans, search and safely disarm mines in the water, or collect data of various oceanic properties over the course of weather changes and time.”
About the Mechatronics Club
The Mechatronics Club was founded in 2011 and is a place for students of all engineering disciplines to meet and apply their knowledge in real-world applications.
The team is comprised of undergraduate students from a cross section of campus, including electrical, computer and mechanical engineering, computer science, aerospace engineering and business. Mechatronics is supported by philanthropic donations and was a recipient of funding made possible by the Student Success Fee.