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ND Undergraduates Score off the Gridiron

Nancy Davis • DATE: December 1, 2016

Since the days of the Four Horsemen, the Fighting Irish have been known for their activities on the gridiron. Robot football at Notre Dame, which has been supported by The Boeing Company, offers rousing competition against other universities. More than that, it is a chance for the students to gain hands-on experience developing robotic systems and a better understanding of humans might interact with such systems in applications from powered prosthetic devices to robot-assisted rehabilitation following stroke or spinal cord injury.

The unique application of complex engineering concepts was why five Notre Dame engineering undergraduates were able to participate in the WHAT’S NEXT Innovation Summit in Chicago earlier this fall. Hosted by The Atlantic and underwritten and presented with Boeing as part of its 100th anniversary celebration, the event explored inventions that make daily life better. It also highlighted the possibilities yet to come with emerging technologies and a few of the young innovators who will develop them.

Professional speakers included Ross Andersen, senior editor for The Atlantic; Marion Blakey, president and chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce North America; France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation; Dennis Muilenburg, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company; Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines; and Dava Newman, deputy administrator at NASA. The event also featured a small group of students invited to present, including Notre Dame’s own Aaron Crawfis and Zoe Dingeman.

Crawfis, a student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Dingeman, who is studying mechanical engineering, were part of a Notre Dame team chosen to participate from among Boeing’s university relations partners. Other participating universities included Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Washington, Northwestern University, Iowa State University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.

The Notre Dame team was selected because of the innovation and outreach associated with the Robot Football student club. Crawfis and Dingeman presented their team’s robotic quarterback to the 700 attendees. All five participating club members, including mechanical engineering undergraduates Anthony Goo and Mallory Kosfeld and electrical engineering student Edward Hunkler, provided robot demonstrations in the exhibition space. The Robot Football club faculty advisers are Michael Stanisic and James Schmiedeler, both associate professors in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

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