Today in NC State History: Students turn to robots

June 20, 2014
By Chris Saunders

historyIconThe summer months are usually reserved for poolside fun, barbecues and trips to the beach. But that wasn’t the case for a group of students at NC State in 1990.

Rather, June marked just the beginning of their yearlong intensive work that led them to a place they’d never been before–the Robotic Walking Machine Decathalon.

On this day 24 years ago, it was announced that a group of engineering and computer science students were going to compete in the event, which was put on annually by the Society of Automotive Engineers, for the first time in school history the following April at the University of Maryland.

There were 10 events or presentations in the contest, each one testing some concept in the field of robotics. According to the Technician, there was the “dash,” where the team’s robot had to walk across the floor in a straight line with no wheels¬†attached. There were events where the robot had to push a hockey puck¬†and walk up a set of stairs.

The team used the summer months to use $12,000 to purchase the materials they needed and test their design. They planned for the robot to be able to walk by Christmas.

There was no record of the team testing if its creation could make it down a chimney.


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