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ENGINEERING: Robotic Vehicle Winners Of 2016 EECE Race Day


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Industrial and electronics distributor RS Components was one of the sponsors for the fourth EECE Race Day at the University of Pretoria this year. The Race Day offers third-year micro-controller students at the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (DEEC) the opportunity to showcase their practical skills and to put theory into practice. RS Components donated power banks, 1-terabyte hard drives and complete Raspberry Pi Kits to the winning teams for the event, which took place in the Tuks Amphitheatre on 30 May.

Students are required to build Autonomous Robotic Vehicles (ARVs), with a sensor system able to detect the multi-coloured track, which is developed as part of their analogue electronics module. The Race Day gives them a platform to work as a team and to demonstrate innovation and technical skills in developing these ARVs.

“The robotic vehicle race offers engineering students the opportunity to develop skills needed to survive and excel in an embedded, control-driven technological society,” says the head of the project, Prof Tania Hanekom of the DEEC at the university.

The project guides aspiring engineers through a carefully planned process to develop a fundamental set of engineering skills, which include hardware and software design skills, systems integration skills, the ability to work and function in a team, time management skills, perseverance and the good old indispensable “engineering gut feeling, which comes only with experience in the execution of engineering projects,” says Prof Hanekom. Mellisa Naidoo, Head of Marketing at RS Components SA, explains that RS Components’ continued involvement in this project is in line with the company’s policy of supporting both professional and future engineers by giving them access to the components and tools they require to innovate. RS Components also hosts, an online technical community for engineers around the world with more than 300 000 members, who can be of assistance to students and engineers working on real-world applications.

DesignSpark offers free software tools in the form of DesignSpark Mechanical, DesignSpark PCB and the most recent addition, DesignSpark Electrical, which brings the benefits of design software to all those not already using CAD tools. Design Spark Electrical is supported by Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation. The software has an integrated library of components that comprises more than 250,000 components and parts, including 80,000 from Schneider Electric and 10,000 from RS, which can easily be added to customer designs.
Naidoo says that “the DesignSpark suite of tools provides affordable access to the functionality of CAD software for students, individuals and businesses that cannot afford the individual licensing for existing CAD products. RS is continually investing and working with global partners to bring essential design tools, component libraries and a host of other resources to engineers who work in the electronics, mechanical and electrical industries.”

The winners were ‘Team 2’, which consisted of Johann Hough and Mathew Fulton, accompanied by Olorato Kabasia, Marketing Co-ordinator, RS Components SA

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