University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations
January 25, 2012
Contact: Meredith Portman, USA Public Relations, (251) 460-6633

Computer Science Sophomores Recognized for Robotics Work

Patrick Poirson, Ellis Hicks and Dr. Michael
Patrick Poirson, Ellis Hicks and Dr. Michael

Two University of South Alabama sophomores earned second place for their work in Robotics at the ACM Mid-Southeast Chapter Fall Conference. ACM stands for the Association of Computing Machinery.

Patrick Poirson and Ellis Hicks presented "Understanding Artificial Intelligence and Real Time Systems with Lego and leJOS" at the conference.  Their project utilized a slot race car track to demonstrate intelligent control systems, sensor systems and robotics. 

Using the track as their test environment, they created a simple sensor system and deployed it around the track. They constructed a robotic gripper that could hold the speed controller. By processing the input from the sensors, they determined the location of the race cars and were able to control their speed to avoid collisions. They created the project using Lego Mindstorm robots and programmed them in a version of Java called leJOS.

Poirson and Hicks, who are computer sciences majors and part of the Honors Program, had been working on their project in the robotics lab in the Undergraduate Research Program since the summer of 2012. 

Dr. Michael Doran, director of USA’s Honors Program and professor of Computer Science said, “I have sent students to this conference consistently since 1999, and they have won many awards, but most of them have been seniors or more advanced undergrads. Patrick and Ellis have done this as first-semester sophomores competing against more advanced students.”

The race car project has also been used to showcase the robotics lab at the opening of Shelby Hall and during student recruitment tours.


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