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Gannon Students Compete at 28th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition

Published: 06/03/2021

Gannon Students Compete at 28th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition

Gannon Students Compete at 28th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition

Gannon University engineering and computer science students are set to compete at the 28th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition on June 4 to 7 at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

The Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, or IGVC, is an annual competition for teams of students from all levels of undergraduate and graduate education. Students design and build an autonomous intelligent ground vehicle through a two-semester senior year design capstone course or extracurricular program. At the end of the year, they showcase their innovation by using their vehicle to complete several difficult challenges at IGVC.

IGVC offers a design experience that is at the cutting edge of engineering education. It is multidisciplinary, theory- based, hands-on, team implemented, outcome assessed, and based on product realization. It encompasses the very latest technologies that impact industrial development and taps subjects of high interest to students. The event also provides networking opportunities to students, giving them an inside view of industrial design and employment opportunities.

During the competition, Gannon students will participate in four challenges including:

  • Auto-Nav Challenge: A fully autonomous unmanned ground vehicle must navigate around an outdoor obstacle course under a prescribed time.

  • Cyber Challenge: Students will demonstrate vehicle security best practices through a written report, oral presentation and vehicle demonstration.

  • Inter-Operability Challenge: Students will demonstrate how compatible their vehicle is with the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems, which is the standard used for current military robots.

  • Design Competition: Students will provide a written report, oral presentation and vehicle demonstration about their vehicle design strategy and development process to an expert panel of judges.

The Gannon University Golden Knights Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition operates under the mentorship of Donald MacKellar, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and currently has 15 members. It was established in 2019 as a student-led research group that focuses on hands-on learning opportunities in areas such as mechanics, electrical, embedded software and cyber physical systems.

Early members of the team include: Tenger Batjargal ’19, ’21M, an embedded systems engineer at IAMRobotics; Niklas Bitters ’19, ’20, a software engineer at Wabtec Corp. and adjunct instructor at Gannon; Steven Rowland ’18, a lab engineer and adjunct instructor for the electrical and computer engineering program at Gannon; and Kenzie Lasher and Peter Caulfield, who are rising seniors in mechanical engineering.

In 2019, Gannon’s team design report ranked 16 out of 41 universities across the U.S. The team has since improved their vehicle to enhance object avoidance capabilities, camera movement, and mechanical structure and packaging as they prepare for the upcoming competition.

Batjargal, who is the team captain, has worked with the team since its launch in 2019.

"It has been a great support in transitioning from academia to the professional environment,” Batjargal said. “The objective of the project is very intriguing, which challenges students to learn and develop personal and professional skills. The technical side of the project enabled students to get experience with up-to-date technologies that are being used and developed in industries and businesses.”

MacKellar said the competition and team is an opportunity to expose students to the professional engineering business environment.

“Companies need students who have been exposed to the complexities of a blended engineering environment,” MacKellar said. “This is a student-led team exposing students to a business hierarchy ... where everyone has the chance to improve their ownership and responsibilities, deliverables, documentation and most importantly, communication skills.”

“I am excited about who on the team was chosen to present the presentation of our product and design. That is the most challenging part of the competition, presenting in front of professionals, academics and other students from around the world,” MacKellar said.

Beyond IGVC, Gannon’s team focuses on an array of research and community service projects that include collaborating with the physical therapy department to adapt commercially available ride-on cars for children with mobility challenges, as well as building a wheelchair training system for a child with cerebral palsy. The team additionally competes at the annual Micromouse Competition and has taken on research projects that involve Artificial Intelligence and underwater robotics.

MacKellar said that moving forward he would like to see continued growth in the team and participation in other blended engineering competitions. “This year IGV had to limit the other stages of the competition ... but we’ll be ready next year,” he said.