Friday, June 14, 2019

Day 22: The final day and the big race!

Alas, as the old adage goes: all good things must come to an end. Our Swiss Mechatronic journey has reached its bittersweet end.
Alas, as the old adage goes: all good things must come to an end. Our Swiss Mechatronic journey has reached its bittersweet end.

The morning energy was both nerve wracking and exciting as we prepared to present the culmination of two weeks of work. All five teams worked through the morning to add some final optimizations to their line-following robots and put final touches on their videos.

After lunch, it was time for the conclusion to the exciting project—a video screening of each teams design process and a thrilling race around three grueling tracks.

The videos the teams made exceeded the expectations of our professors and our peers had. Each team took the creative opportunity to highlight their teams’ specific quirks and strengths. Video styles ranged from meme-filled edgy energy to skillfully executed Apple launch.

Feel free to enjoy these cinematic masterpieces produced by the teams:
Next, the moment we were all waiting for: the big race!

First was the "Pedal to the Metal" course; a speed focused course with simple curves and straights. This portion was a close tie between "Zee Haw" and "Sweet Child of Line" aka SCOL. However, after a risky software update, SCOL took the fastest time with 17.01 seconds!

Next, the "Brainwasher" course. It is more difficult course with line anomalies such as a serpentine, dead ends, and forks. This course was mastered by many a team. However, the fastest time went to Zee Haw’s careful execution of precise software.

Finally, the "Over and Around" obstacle course. This course was a simple to follow line with the caveat of a ramp, brick, step, and collectable ping pong balls. Oh my!

Many teams struggled with this course despite their success on earlier runs, proving that even robots get stage fright. However, Saftiger Döner pulled out an amazing surprise by mastering the obstacle course with flying colors! When their robot navigated the final brick turn, the classroom exploded in cheers and whoops.

In fact, their obstacle course time was half their "pedal to the metal" time. Their success is definitely correlated to their ingenious brain fuel choice of authentic Swiss Döners.

This last win landed them the number one overall score in the circuit followed by CH in second and the Swiss Cows in third!

We were rejoined by many of the amazing people who made the trip possible for us and wanted to take this time to present our new Swiss family with gifts as a thank you for their hospitality and generosity.

First, thank you to Michael, our professor for our time at ZHAW. He was an amazing professor who enriched our Swiss experience with hands-on and fun academic lectures. He also was an excellent guide on Swiss culture who went above and beyond to elevate our emersion in Swiss culture. Bonus: he's an awesome dancer. Thank you so much for welcoming us into your classroom and country so warmly. We will never forget it.

We were reunited with Wolfgang, our guide to Munich and head of international relations for ZHAW's School of Engineering. He is "the man, the myth, the legend: Wolfgang." We even got him a mug to remind him of that. Thank you for being the first Swiss friend we made and entertaining us with your outstanding wit.

As we packed up to go to back Minneapolis, we were reminded how far we came in one final lecture. It was extremely bittersweet to leave so many amazing individuals and a such a beautiful country, but we also know that Switzerland will be waiting with open arms should we ever get the opportunity to return.

We thank ZHAW and the entire country of Switzerland for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Chocolate isn't the only souvenir we are coming back with; we also have new Swiss and American friends, priceless memories, and life changing experiences.

Shalini S.