UPDATE NOTE: The post has been updated to represent the correct facts about NERC 2011. The views expressed here are personal and are certainly not the mouthpiece of any institute, administration, group or participant of the competition.
What’s with NERC?
NERC is a National Engineering Robotics Competition.We have previously reported about the event at iRnustian here. Now the results are out and its time to revisit the post and declare the results. All feedback, comments and post event videos can be accessed at the NERC’s official facebook page. The entire photo gallery can be accessed here. All pictures appearing in this post are courtesy of the NERC official facebook page which holds the credits for them.
NERC is a brainchild of department of mechatronics, EME College and has been held consistently since 2003 in EME College, NUST. Over years the theme of competition has evolved: though it still involves design, development and programming of robots, the entire systems require expertise from different fields of engineering and the students working on such robots develop a wide skill set apart from the great experience of working on a multi-disciplinary systems team. Out of all competitions held at NUST, NERC has the strictest regimen. There are other engineering and design competitions which display the skills of participants through projects, yet these projects are often a part of some other coursework or the senior design projects. NERC maintains its unique identity of involving students in a constructive engineering design team which (more often than not) is not a mandatory part of their academics. Students work around the year spending their time, energy and monetary resources into this mega event. In the last week before the event everyone is literally on adrenaline rush with long sleepless work hours and tons of debugging of codes. All the participants of NERC will cherish those moments forever.
A brief history of the previous NERC events can be read at wiki site. In year 2003, 04, 06, 07, 08 the event was won by teams from EME College while team from Air University beat the winning streak of EME in year 2005. Recently, Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering (CASE) has been a winner of NERC in year 2009 and 10. This year College of EME participated with 22 teams, CASE participated with 8 teams , NED University 24 teams, and there were teams from GIKI, FAST, LUMS, UET Lahore, SEECS NUST as well as universities from all over Pakistan(, including teams from the far-off areas of Baluchistan, NWFP, and rural Sind). It was such a great experience to see the young participants from institutions from all over Pakistan exhibiting national unity and harmony. The credit goes to the College of EME NUST, the Department of Mechatronics and its Head of the Department Dr Javed Iqbal.
Rules and Results Compilation
In NERC 2010 the performance by the robots from C@SE was outstanding. Some robots in the competition had a superior technology than the other competitors. The jury which comprised of senior professors from reputed institutes (GIKI, UET etc.) proposed the administration to impose a regulation mandating an upper limit on the budget for each robot. Since all real world engineering projects follow the (triple) constraint of schedule, cost & quality, the recommendation was accepted by the administration of NERC competition (also announced on stage to put an upper cap of Rs. 70,000 was imposed). This regulation was also enforced to keep a check on the amount of resources required to win the competitions since the students from far off backgrounds can not match the resources and allocations of some universities in big cities.
This year CASE teams again outperformed other competitors by completing the designed task in minimal timings and won appreciation of the crowd as well as judges. However, as per the regulations of the competitions the jury found out that the overall budget of some of the robots exceeded the mandated limits. The cost breakdown did not match with the components used (as per original price). As a consequence of this violation some robots were disqualified. Due to these issues the administration of some institutes decided to forfeit their claims to prizes in the main category. Keeping aside some of the disqualification robots from C@SE did perform much better than others and 6/7 robots that completed the defined tasks were from CASE.
Three cheers for the winners
The final results of the competition are summarized below, as reported by The News.
At the end of the ceremony the chief guest Dr. Ansar Parvez, Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission gave away the prizes to the winning teams of the contest in the following categories:
Winner NERC 2011 Shield with cash prize of Rs80,000 was awarded to Virtuoso (SEECS, NUST),
1st Runner up NERC 2011 Shield with cash prize of Rs50,000 was awarded to Line Cruser Returns (University of Lahore),
2nd Runner up NERC 2011 Shield with cash prize of Rs40,000 was awarded to Box Hunter (Bahria University),
2 x Best Engineering Excellence Awards were given to the team M6 from College of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering and Infinity from CASE,
3 x Best Engineering Design Award with cash prize of Rs30,000 each was awarded to Nuts & Volts (NED, Karachi), Mechatron (Wah Engineering College), MUET boy (MUET, Jamshoro),
Winner NERC 2011 Lego Award with cash prize of Rs25,000 was shared by Agent 47 (Beacon house Educational Complex) and Appache786 (Army Public School E & ME),
1st Runner up NERC 2011 Lego Award with cash prize of Rs15,000 was awarded to Balistic Catapult (Beacon House Educational Complex),
2nd Runner up NERC 2011 Lego Award with cash prize of Rs10,000 was awarded to Lego Baba and Captain Jack Sparrow,
Youngest participants Award with cash prize of Rs5,000 was awarded to Fayed Arshad of 6th class in Headstart School,
5 x Participants & Performance Awards (Less NUST Students) Rs15,000 each to Legomegatron (Headstart School), Infiltrator (FG Sir Syed College), Kratos (SEECS, NUST), Botzilla (NED University), The Quest Small boy (Quaid-i-Azam University of Engineering, Nawabshah),
Spirit of Participation Award was awarded to Baluchistan Institute of IT, Engineering and Management sciences.
Department of Mechatronics at E&ME, NUST
College of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering offers a very competitive program in mechatronics engineering which is a specialized major in itself. This program was amongst the pioneers of this field in Pakistan and other labs/programs at many other universities followed afterwards. Statistics of placement for the program at E&ME are a clear proof of the popularity of this program in industry. Engineers from this department take up various positions in almost all industrial sectors of Pakistan. This success is ofcourse a fruit of the untiring efforts of the faculty and the founding directors of this program who took a faith of leap to introduce a new field of engineering at bachelors level which had yet to establish its niche.
Mechatronics department of E&ME College encourages industrial partnerships in the senior design projects of the students and several projects have now culminated into formal research labs with dedicated research engineers as well as final year students. Teams from E&ME College have represented Pakistan more than once at the international events of robotics e.g. ROBOCON.
NERC was an effort by the college of E&ME to promote robotics in Pakistan through healthy and theme based competitions. Scores of teams from E&ME participate in this event every year. Department of Mechatronics Engineering was able to build on the experiences of students in NERC to delve into much more complex and often under-acknowledged projects such as aerial robotics (UAV autopilot systems), underwater robots (Unmanned ground vehicle research lab), unmanned ground vehicles for military and non-military uses (including bomb disposal) and widely cited and highly prized project of Myo-Electric Prosthetic Limb.
C@SE Robotics Group
The robotics group at C@SE has patroned several student teams in robotics competitions including NERC. This year, CASE Robotics Team is also selected to participate in the most prestigious international competition ROBOCON to be held in Bangkok. CASE team is holding the national color so we all pray for their success, given the performance of teams in NERC we hope that it will perform with best of its abilities to bring laurels to Pakistan. Last year, team from CASE also represented Pakistan after beating all the local contestants as well as Indian teams in the competition.
As reported by CASE’s official page:
CASE and CARE offer a unique environment where academia and industry co exist. Last year the two institutions made history on national scene by winning 5 Pasha ICT awards. CARE also made history by winning 3 APICTA ICT Merit Awards in Malaysia while competing with best ICT products from courtiers like Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. CARE is rendering engineering services to several organizations in Pakistan executing on challenging projects worth millions of US dollars. CARE has also won international projects while competing with the very best that the world has to offer.
NERC is pride of NUST
We at iRnustian are totally proud of the fact that such a national event of great reputation is a legacy of NUST which invites fierce competition from all over the Pakistan. We wish everyone the best of luck with their competition in 2012. We would also invite students from all disciplines of NUST to participate in this competition and formulate cross disciplinary teams to make the best out of it. As an alumnus of NUST, i can relate that the experience of NERC is a very close simulation of teamwork in real industry. Students may find a great use of their time during summer break 2012 to team up for the NERC 2012.
We wish luck to all the participants of NERC and would like the NUSTians to fight back to win the trophy back home next year. Competitions like NERC do display the skills of teams from various schools however this is not the only metric of gauging the quality of education at that institute in robotics and/or control systems.