Club History Overview

Click to Select a Year


  • President: Katherine Killfoile (kkillfoi)
  • Vice President: Justine Rembisz (jrembisz)
  • Vice President: Aaron Johnson (aaronjoh)
  • Treasurer: Allison Naaktgeboren (anaaktge)
  • Webmaster: Eugene Marinelli (emarinel)
  • Ben Berkowitz - Shop Master
  • Felix Duvallet
  • James Kong
  • Suresh Nidhiry
  • Kevin Woo


  • Matt Mason’s Manipulation laboratory donated a SCARA robotic arm system

Yearly Recap

It was another phenomenal year for the Robotics Club. The final count was 141 members—almost twice as many as last year. But as always the real excitement is with the big group projects, so here is a summary of what they have accomplished:

RobOrchestra had a tremendous year thanks to the help of the veteran members along with the freshman who brought their enthusiasm and dedication to the project. They completed two instruments this year, a snare drum playing robot (Snare-bot) and a new xylophone playing robot (Xylobot). Also, they replaced the old pennywhistle with a flutophone which has given them extended playing capabilities thanks to the instruments ability to play chromatics. The project also designed a custom microcontroller, the Fruitfly, to control these new instruments. Along with the microcontroller came a modular communications subsystem that allows all the instruments to talk to the computer on a shared bus using a combination of I2C and USB. Finally, they created a totally new algorithm to generate music based on Markov models leading to more realistic and unpredictable music. Of great accomplishment, the CS team has also migrated from Java to C. The end result of all of these additions was the successful demo at Meeting of the Minds where the Snare-bot and Xylobot played together on their own from music generated by the Markov graph. The team won the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry Award at Meeting of the Minds.

BattleBots successfully competed with not one but two different robots at the annual BattleBotsIQ compeition. Revenant came in 2nd place overall in the competition in it’s last year at CMU, out of 11 college robots. It was undefeated until its 4th match when it was beaten by a wedge bot from Missouri, which it had to fight again in order to go for 1st place. 5 minutes before the final match a battery pack they had borrowed from another team started a fire in the robot and a person that came over with a fire extinguisher used the wrong type and messed up the bearings and other things with all the particles it sprayed. They were able to get the robot running again even though it wasn’t the same as before since they were in a major hurry. Revenant ended up losing the match and started smoking in the end, but they were at least able to fight and last the full 3 minutes. The 15lber, Shoryuken, won its first fight without the weapon and lost the next two due to bugs that hadn’t been fixed yet. It also competed in a grudge match with the weapon finally working but it turned out to be too powerful for the frame to handle and came apart. With the knowledge they gained from the competition the 15lber team should have a competitive and pretty scary robot next year. As a side note the Puerto Rican team gave to us their steel armor as a present since we banged and shredded it up pretty nicely, so that will go up on the shop wall next to the old Revenant shell.

Colony also had an incredibly successful year. Thanks to the Robotics Institute, they now have 20 new, identical robots, designed by Robotics Club alumni. With the help of these robots, and a number of very excited freshmen, the colony robots now have the ability to seek out a charging station and autonomously recharge themselves as needed. The colony also demonstrated a cooperative maze solving behavior, where robots work together to get everyone through a maze. Also new this year is an on-line control program, ColoNet, which lets users login to a website and take control of a colony robot. The colony had a number of successful demos this year, including one at GDRS and an FRC seminar. Colony was honored at the Meeting of the Minds with the Lockheed Martin Judges’ Choice award.

ChalkBot was kicked off this year, and made incredible progress. They have a complete chassis that can successfully draw a very strait line on the ground, and are working on a custom localization sensor to be able to very precisely chalk the sidewalks around campus.

A SCARA robot arm was donated to the club in the fall from Matt Mason. After a number of phone calls with the manufacturer, we finally got it up and running. We attached a Dremel rotary tool to the end, and successfully used it to cut a piece of wood.

The MOBOT competition went off without a hitch this year, with some club members helping to run the event, and other competing, and doing well, in it.

The AirHockey robot frame is coming along, and a few new members are very excited about the project, but ran out of time at the end of the year. Look for that project to be completed in the fall!

As always there were countless smaller, individual projects that are too plentiful to mention. The club has become so popular that it seems like the doors never close. I know that I was in the club almost every day this year, and in the past month I have only had to use my key once

- Aaron