By Kuah Guan Oo
Photo by Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, 7 May (UPM) – The members of the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Robotic Club have done their university proud again, the second time in almost as many months.
Their invention of a robot that fired paintballs like miniature tanker had won them the award of first runner-up in the Paintball Robot category of the Malaysia International Robot Competition (MIRoC) from 12-14 April, 2013.
The competition was hosted by Universiti Malaysia Perlis and the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), said Dr Azura Che Soh, a lecturer from the Faculty of Engineering who is an adviser to the team.
The team comprising students from different faculties, who were drawn together by their passion for robotics, also won the Best Presentation award in the Fire Fighting Robot category.
The first runner-up award came with a cheque for RM3, 000 and a certificate, while the Best Design award comprised a RM500 cheque and a certificate.
Last February, the team had beaten more than 50 other teams to emerge as the overall champions at the 7th edition of the annual national robotic competition. Their robot then could be made to carry out tasks or maintenance work in high-risk areas like hazardous and radioactive chemical spills.
Dr Azura who is very proud of her students for their achievements said the MIRoC competition for all institutions of higher learning, secondary and technical schools was more than a game of robots for the students.
There were three categories in the competition: paintball robots, fire-fighting robots and rope-climbing robots.
But more important than the robots with “guns” to fire away the paintballs like bullets was the sharing of knowledge about the technology used in the creation of the robots and so on.
While the robots might look the same, their functions were different, depending on the strategy used to perform the tasks required.
“That is why we have posters and design plans for our presentation to share knowledge and technology,” said Dr Wan Zuha Wan Hasan, a colleague of Dr Azura who is also an adviser to the robotic team.
They explained that it was the first time that MIRoC was held, and that it was the intention of the MOHE to internationalise the event. The competition was previously known as MURoC or the Malaysian University Robotic Competition.
They also said that the students had to build their robots in accordance to specifications laid down for the competition like weights, speed and so on.
“Right now, they are busy preparing for the Robotcon or the National Robotic Contest of MOHE at the end of this month to select the best team to represent the country at an international competition in Vietnam later this year,” Dr Azura said.
Both Dr Azura and Dr Wan Zuha said that they found the members of the robotic club to be very technical-minded and good with their hands, though they might come from different faculties like agriculture and biology studies.
President of the club, Muhammad Azizi b. Md Idruss, 22, said he became more and more interested in robotics after the joining the club upon enrolling for his Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme three years ago.
“I can apply what I am studying, like wiring and programming,” said the 3rd year student, who does not rule out carving a career in the field after finishing his Bachelor degree.
The past president of the club, Mohd Hanif b. Yatim, 23, a final-year Electrical and Electronic Engineering student, said he was so interested in robotics that he too was considering a career in the field.
“Robots nowadays can be used for military and security purposes,” he said, adding that what he found to be also beneficial was that he could apply what he had learnt when building the robots.
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Selangor Darul Ehsan