Introduction to UAA Robotics

Hey, do you know what sounds fun?  Let’s try to start a new club at UAA.  


Nah that’s too easy.  Let’s start a new club that builds a robot.  


Meh, not sold.  How about a club that builds a rover, with an arm, that can navigate autonomously, maneuver over a one-meter drop, assist theoretical astronauts, and perform experiments as if it were on Mars.  Oh, let’s make it competitive too.  


Ok, now that sounds like a challenge.  Wait, how much is this going to cost?


Hmmm… well.


Fast forward to today.  Four undergraduate students at the University of Alaska Anchorage began and organized the first competitive collegiate-level robotics team in Alaska.  These students were joined by others who span the engineering disciplines (mechanical, electrical, computer science, & civil), but also include individuals with science and business backgrounds.  We have young entrepreneurs and physicists.  We have media experts and marketers.  UAA Robotics is possibly the broadest reaching, product driven club on campus.  And this is only our first year.    


We are just getting our feet wet, but as I write this, my colleagues are working on 3D-printing a scale model of our preliminary structural design; signifying the completion of our first design sprint.  Teams are working on our electronics and automation systems.  Others are collaborating to resolve power sources and management systems.  Everyone is sharing information and working towards a solution for this difficult challenge.


When we are ready, we plan to complete in the 2017 University Rover Challenge.  Expect another blog entry soon explaining what is so intriguing about this season’s scenario – I’ll give you a hint, it deals with A.I.  


I almost forgot we can’t leave out the important contribution the marketing oriented students bring to the team.  Thanks to them you can sign up for our mailing list and receive updates at critical junctures as we develop our rover.  We also have them to thank for our nifty website.  


Many of our resources are being donated, but we still have one major challenge you can help us with… funding.  Our preliminary estimate for this year’s efforts is $50,000.  That seems like a bunch of money, but we are competing against schools that have annual expenditures for the same project exceeding $100,000.  Some competitors even have dedicated endowments for this type of endeavor.  We hope that through the generosity of our community we can prove that more can be accomplished with less by employing lean design and development principles.  


We hope you can see this is going to be one of the most holistic student groups in the UAA educational community. One of our major goals is to bridge the gap between our educational silos and work in a cross-functional team environment.     


We hope you are as excited as we are!  Check in often to see what is new.  


Thank you for your visit.




Sean Gwaltney, PMP

Iceberg 1 Project Manager

MSPM Student