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CNM Team Places in NASA-Sponsored ‘Swarmathon’ Robot Competition

April 27, 2017 -- A team of CNM computer science and engineering students came in fifth place overall and second place in technical papers in a NASA-sponsored “Swarmathon” robot competition last week. The competition, organized by the University of New Mexico, was held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
CNM Team Places in NASA-Sponsored ‘Swarmathon’ Robot Competition

Apr 27, 2017

CNM competed against 19 teams from across the country using NASA pre-assembled robots that the students programmed to autonomously navigate an arena, finding and collecting small cubics. They were mimicking the gathering of resources, such as ice, on the surface of Mars.

Taking first place in the competition was Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, followed by University of Houston, second place; California State University – Channel Islands, third place; and San Jacinto College and University of Houston, Clear Lake, semi-finalists.

The students received partial robot control programs earlier this year and spent seven months, including a few months from last Fall Term, revising/enhancing them with their algorisms. The robots were programmed to communicate and interact as a collective swarm similar to ants foraging for food.

The competition is a NASA Minority University Research Program project, which strives to ensure that underrepresented and underserved students participate in NASA education and research. The Swarmies were designed through a collaboration between UNM and NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Swam Works facility.

CNM students participating in the NASA competition included Adrian Acosta Villa, Joel Adkins, Rudy Garcia, David Kirby, Steven Lindsley, Jacob McCullough, Charles Nuanes, Juan Rueda, Jeffery Schlindwein, Paul Ward and Kaily Young with Dr. Chu Jong as faculty advisor. They paid for their own airfare, but accommodations were provided from last year’s prize money where CNM took second place in the competition.

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“The students really enjoyed the competition and want to do it again next year,” Jong said. “They plan on getting an earlier start and work with new students who want to participate.”

While at the NASA facility, the CNM students met with NASA engineers and officials and discussed possible internships and other opportunities.