Robot "Jessica Jo" leads ECE students to IEEE SoutheastCon win

A robot named “Jessica Jo” and her Tennessee Tech University creators recently defeated more than 40 universities, including Georgia Tech, the University of Tennessee and the University of Florida in a prestigious student engineering competition.

Tennessee Tech captured first place in the Southeastcon Student Hardware Competition sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The team’s robot mastered and posted the fastest time in “The Hunting Session,” a challenge during which robots received information in Morse code and retrieved targets representing rabbits, ducks and deer.

“It gives great exposure for TTU, especially when we compete and win against big name universities,” said Ali Alouani, TTU electrical and computer engineering professor and team adviser since 2002.

P.K. Rajan, chair of TTU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, said there is additional value to competing.

“The competition also provides a great opportunity for students to put into practice the knowledge and expertise they have acquired during the four years of their study in their degree program,” said Rajan.

More than 300 students on 43 teams competed in the event that tested the speed and accuracy of the robots designed and programmed solely by the students. The field included several Southeastern Conference schools, including UTK, Florida, the University of South Carolina and the University of Mississippi, plus other highly competitive universities such as Georgia Tech and the University of North Florida.

“Jessica Jo” outperformed competitors in a multi-task event that mimicked a hunting session where hunters need help retrieving animals. The autonomous robot drove under a covered bridge to a code station and decoded information provided in Morse code detailing the order in which to hunt the targets. Then “Jessica Jo” deposited the targets into a cage and finished with the best time and accuracy of any of the machines.-more-

“It was a great opportunity for our students to show their capabilities,” said Alouani. “This win was quite exciting and rewarding for them because they spent long hours designing and testing the robot.”

Tennessee Tech’s team topped their recent successes that include a second place finish in 2002 and a third place finish in 2003.

SoutheastCon is an annual conference bringing together electrical and computer engineering professionals, faculty and students to share the latest information through technical sessions, tutorials and exhibits. Each year the hardware competition planners challenge students to create projects that answer a real-world need. The event emphasizes how engineering is about cutting a path where none exists and contributing to new and unique solutions never explored.

Apply Now