Amazing Race for SDM Certificate Program

First Place Design Challenge Winners

By Amy MacMillan, LFM-SDM Communications Assistant
September 12 , 2005

Members of the SDM 2005 Certificate Program holed up inside the Hotel@MIT last week, where they successfully completed a Design Challenge competition using LEGOs, duct tape, and glue guns, among a few other miscellaneous items.

The winning team, which dubbed itself the Hover Heads and presented a creative and hilarious video account of their challenge, consisted of: Daly Gutierrez, Alan Coyne, Kyle DeLong, Thomas Schmidt-Lange, Thomas Wengler, and Paul Cummings, all from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation within United Technologies Corporation (UTC).

First Place Design Challenge Winners. Front Row: Daly Guiterrez, Alan Coyne, Kyle DeLong. Second Row: Thomas Schmidt-Lange, Thomas Wengler, Paul Cummings.

The 26 students, who were from different divisions of UTC and the Boeing Company, were divided into five cross-disciplinary teams, and instructed to build a robotic race car or truck based on the Paris-Dakar Rally, a sporting competition in the heart of Africa.

Each team spent approximately 41 hours constructing and testing their robotic race car prototypes for the rally. On the day of the race, each robot had to complete two stages of the rally – a remote controlled course and an autonomous course. There were some randomly placed obstacles, including natural elements such as sand, water, and rocks on the path. The winning team navigated from the start to the finish line in the shortest time.

Judges included Pat Hale, director, SDM Fellows Program, and current SDM students Uday Hardikar, Heesung Moon, and Kostas Zafiriou, who also designed and built the track.

Hardikar said he was immensely impressed with all of the teams’ efforts and presentations. The Hover Heads’ whimsical video showed off not just engineering talents, but marketing talents, as well, Hardikar pointed out.

He also noted the collaboration among the teams. "I thought it was really nice that people came together in this design challenge," he said.

The second place design challenge winners were: Veena Thompson, James Peeler, Weiying Cheng, Miguel Torres, Charles Ufongene, and Peter Kootsookos, all from the United Technologies Research Center.

Third place winners included: Meggan Harris, Stefan Poth, Arun Srinivasan, Ron Prihar, and Tim Swanson, all from Pratt & Whitney, and Partha Seshadri, from UTC’s Fuel Cells division.