Colorado State University Walkling Machine Teams Compete in Largest International Event in Challenge’s 15 Year History

Colorado State University student-designed robotic walking machines will run the dash, race a slalom, carry heavy loads, find hidden objects and compete in an endurance test while vying for the 2002 Walking Machine Challenge championship in Golden, Colo., April 25-27.

Three groups of Colorado State undergraduates are entering robots in the annual competition in addition to 23 teams from Canada, Mexico and the Unites States. The 26 multi-legged mechanical creatures will compete April 26 from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and April 27 from 8 a.m.-4:40 p.m. in the Steinhauer Field House on the Colorado School of Mines campus. The competition is free and open to the public. The School of Mines, which is entering two teams and hosting the challenge, is the only other Colorado university competing in the event.

Engineering students design and build the versatile robots that are guided by computers and powered by self-contained sources including electricity and compressed air. During competition, the machines perform six tasks that challenge students to think creatively. Teams score points based on how well their robots perform as well as the esthetics, structural integrity and safety of the walking machines. Each team also must submit a technical paper and make a presentation on their robots.

"The walking machine competition challenges students to think creatively and develop engineering solutions to difficult real world problems," said Peter Young, professor of electrical engineering at Colorado State and faculty advisor for the walking challenge. "Moreover, the students have to combine knowledge from different areas of engineering using an interdisciplinary approach to get the most from the robot. Combined teams of electrical and computer and mechanical engineering students work together to design and build the machines."

Engineering students applied to become part of the Colorado State teams in August. Planning, preparations and designs for competition begin in mid-September and continued through the fall semester. Construction, implementation and testing proceed throughout the spring in preparation for this week’s Walking Machine Challenge. Students are responsible for the entire project, including fundraising, design, production and assembly.

The Walking Machine Challenge was first held at Colorado State during the 1986-87 academic year, and Colorado State entries have placed in one of the top three positions 11 times and taken first prize in eight contests. Participation in the challenge is part of a senior design requirement for mechanical and electrical and computer engineering students.

"This is a fun and challenging project for all of the team members," said Dan Malyszko, one of Colorado State’s Team MIKE representatives. "Colorado State University has a long tradition of excelling in this competition, and we look forward to bringing the first place award back to Fort Collins again this year."

The Society of Automotive Engineers sponsors the annual event. For more information, including a schedule of events, team rules and a list of competing universities, visit the Web at