Student-built robot hand

U of M Students present largest robot show in Twin Cities

Students learn real-world engineering lessons

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (12/10/2018) — A sandwich cutter, a golf ball marker, a clothes folder, a pillow fluffer, and a candy sorter will be among more than 200 machines on display at the University of Minnesota Robot Show 2:40-4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, in the McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis.

The walk-through show is the largest collection of robots assembled in one place in the Twin Cities. The event is free and open to the public and is suitable for all ages.

The show is the culmination of seven weeks of work for University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering students in the Introduction to Engineering class who created computer-controlled machines that “do something useful.” Students received a small kit of parts, and could add no more than $50 worth of their own materials.  

“Designing and building a machine that performs a task and that meets hard constraints is an activity that confronts professional engineers all the time,” said Will Durfee, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota. “For many of these students, this was the first time they have gone through the entire process of starting with a concept and turning it into an actual working prototype. Just like professional engineers, they had to do just-in-time learning to acquire the skills in mechanical design, electronic circuits and computer programming needed to get their machine to work. It is important that these second-year engineering students get this kind of experience early on in their major.”  

The robots must act for no more than 60 seconds and have at least one moving part, but it is up to the students to determine how the unique machines do something useful—such as dealing cards, salting popcorn, catapulting M&M’s, mixing drinks or cutting bananas.    

For more information on this event and photos from previous years, visit the Robot Show website.