UIndy Students Take Home First Prize at National Robotics Competition

A team of students from the R.B. Annis School of Engineering at the University of Indianapolis won first place in the combat robot competition at the National Robotics Challenge World Championship. 

Over the past academic year, a team of seniors designed, fabricated, and tested the combat robot. These students include:

  • Jonathan Key, Mechanical Engineering
  • Tyler Cole, Industrial & Systems Engineering 
  • Laura Johnson, Mechanical Engineering 
  • Ryan Kallenberger, Mechanical Engineering

In April, the team’s robot design passed a stringent qualification round and were invited to participate in the finals that took place in Marion, OH, in May, where the R.B Annis School of Engineering team won first place (gold award) in the post-secondary division of the combat robot competition, and boasted an undefeated record throughout the tournament.  

Ryan Kallenberger was the game-day captain and driver of the robot at the event, and junior Mechanical Engineering major, Anthony WIlliamson, represented the team at the competition as well. 

The Staff and Faculty who traveled with the students to Marion, OH to support the team include:

  • James Emery who also significantly supported the student team in designing, testing, and fabricating the robot, and was also a competition advisor. 
  • Najmus Saqib Mechanical Engineering faculty support and competition advisor.
  • Cameron Wright a local engineering and external advisor.
  • Joseph B. Herzog, team advisor and senior design instructor and course coordinator. 

Eliot Motato, also supported and advised the team along with Herzog as a Faculty Team Committee member throughout the academic year. Plus, many other R.B. Annis School of Engineering faculty and staff helped support the team throughout the year to help make this happen. 

R.B. Annis School of Engineering donates PPE to Indianapolis healthcare workers

Healthcare workers at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis model face shields manufactured by James Emery, lab manager at the R.B. Annis School of Engineering.

Healthcare workers at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis model face shields manufactured by James Emery, laboratory manager at the R.B. Annis School of Engineering.

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering is putting expertise and resources towards the fight against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). James Emery, laboratory manager for mechanical systems, is printing face shields for St. Vincent Indianapolis emergency room healthcare workers.

“I asked some friends who are nurses if their emergency room would be in need. They are parents that I met through Indiana FIRST while mentoring a team,” Emery said. He has also been approached by a local fire department.

The design was provided by a 3D printing machine manufacturer that is producing the shields for local hospitals in Europe. Emery researched the need for face shields during the COVID-19 crisis and notes that the design has been vetted. He has registered with national initiatives to assist in the manufacturing of personal protective equipment for first responders. 

“During this pandemic, there are so many nurses and doctors who are working tirelessly to help the population,” Emery said. “I found that the 3D printing community was stepping up in huge ways to try and help.”

Emery had enough materials to manufacture about 50 face shields. He delivered them to St. Vincent in April.

“As we are left at home while the first responders, doctors and nurses are out every day trying to help the individuals that have been infected with this virus,” Emery said, “I wanted to do my part to help them.”

Emery is continuing to produce face shields and is planning to donate more as he is able to manufacture them.

Paul Talaga, assistant professor of engineering, donated 3D-printed "ear savers."

Paul Talaga, assistant professor of engineering, donated 3D-printed “ear savers.”

Paul Talaga, assistant professor of engineering, used a 3D printer to manufacture “ear savers” for healthcare workers on the frontline. The device attaches to the elastic straps of the mask to alleviate discomfort. To reduce the danger of contracting the disease, healthcare workers must wear a mask at all times when working with patients.

Talaga has delivered 100 ear savers to four Indianapolis-area hospitals.

A nurse at an Indianapolis-area hospital wears one of the "ear-savers" produced by Paul Talaga.

A nurse at an Indianapolis-area hospital wears one of the “ear-savers” produced by Paul Talaga.


R. B. Annis School of Engineering hosts FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff Event

The R. B. Annis School of Engineering hosted the annual FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff Event in early January. Dozens of high school students from around the state received their challenge to design, build, program and test a robot within six weeks. 

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering also designed and fabricated cell-phone holders for all student participants.

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering also designed and fabricated cell-phone holders for all student participants.

It’s all part of the INFINITE RECHARGE FIRST RISE℠, powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, a worldwide challenge for young inventors to test their mettle and collaborative skills, organized locally by IndianaFIRST. R. B. Annis School of Engineering faculty and students provided presentations, met with students, and offered a VR experience of the newly-released game field. 

At Saturday’s Kickoff, teams were shown the INFINITE RECHARGE game field and challenge details for the first time, and received the Kickoff Kit of Parts, which is made up of motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components. With limited instructions students, working with experienced mentors, have about six weeks to create their robots to meet the new 2020 season’s engineering challenge. Once the teams build a robot, students will participate in one or more of the Indiana district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

New challenging game elements in the game INFINITE RECHARGE make for a complicated strategy with many options. INFINITE RECHARGE has high school robotics team students around the world eager to capture a championship. After the game was revealed Saturday, students immediately began brain-storming and drawing up initial designs for robots that will compete at several events this season. Teams have about 6 weeks to build their robots before the competition season begins.

During the FIRST build season, multiple UIndy faculty, staff, and students assist local FIRST teams with their robots, including the fabrication of parts using the R. B. Annis School of Engineering’s fabrication facilities.

Campus robotics competition highlights STEM education efforts across Indiana

VEX robotics teamWhile the rest of their competitors were frantically tweaking their machines to just the right specifications before matches began, the robotics team from Covenant Christian High School huddled away from the crowds to take their robot for a test drive.

“It’s nerve-wracking when the robot doesn’t exactly do what you want it to do in the tournament. But, that’s part of fun of this competition,” said team member Isaac Lapley, 16.

Covenant Christian of Indianapolis was one of more than 100 local teams competing in at the VEX Robotics Competition, held in January at the University of Indianapolis. Top finishers at the campus event advanced to the state competition held later this year. All participants are now eligible to be considered for a $10,000 scholarship to the University of Indianapolis.
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Future Engineers to compete at UIndy

Future Engineers compete at University of Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS—On Saturday, December 11th, 2021, hundreds of students from across the state of Indiana will be participating in the FIRST LEGO League state championship at the R.B. Annis School of Engineering on the campus of the University of Indianapolis.

Thirty-six teams made up of students in grades 4-8 will get three matches during which their robot has to solve a series of missions autonomously on a 4 X 8-foot table in two and a half minutes. Teams will be competing for an invitation to the FIRST World Festival to be held in April 2022 in Detroit, Michigan where they will compete against teams from over 100 countries. There is also a spot available for a team to be nominated for the Global Innovation Award powered by Star Wars Force for Change.

In addition to creating robots, students will also give a research-based presentation to a panel of judges. This competitive component is known as the Innovation Project. FLL’s Cargo Connect participants have learned how cargo is transported, sorted and delivered to its destinations. Using this information, students have identified real-world problems and completed the Innovation Project by developing innovative solutions to those problems.

Through the 2021-2022 season, FIRST® FORWARD presented by Qualcomm, teams have the power to reimagine a path forward and invent the future of transportation. Each FIRST program centers around the theme of transportation and explores the variety of ways technology and engineering have improved transportation throughout history. Transportation drives progress, impacting economies around the world and advancing globalization.

For information about starting an FLL team at your school, community group, or other organization please email info@indianafirst.org. You can also visit the FIRST website www.firstinspires.org/robotics/fll/start-a-team to learn how you can start a team today.


FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Boosted by a global support system of mentors, coaches, volunteers, alumni, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, and build robots, then compete and celebrate at local, regional, and international events. High school students are eligible for more than $80 million in college scholarships. Learn more at firstinspires.org

About FIRST Indiana Robotics 

FIRST Indiana Robotics is an organization dedicated to growing FIRST robotics programs in the state of Indiana. Founded in the fall of 2001 as the Indiana-based affiliate of FIRST, FIRST Indiana Robotics brings FIRST programming to students in grades K-12, teaching them hands-on skills in engineering, science and technology that they can relate back to their class work.

About the R.B. Annis School of Engineering

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering at the University of Indianapolis was established in 2017 through a transformative $5 million grant from the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation. Since its founding, the Annis School has set a regional standard as an innovative engineering school offering seven specialized areas of study in computer engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial & systems engineering, computer science, and general engineering. In March 2021, the University dedicated the state-of-the-art R.B. Annis Hall as the new home of the Annis School. The expansion, which translates to more opportunities for innovative designs for student teams as well as industry and community connections, is the culmination of the University’s $25 million investment in its engineering programs. With 19 full-time faculty and directors and an average class size of ten students, the Annis School offers students real-world industry experience through internships and collaborative projects with internal and external clients, as well as mentoring and soft skills development. 

R.B. Annis School of Engineering receives NSF grant funding

The University of Indianapolis’ R.B. Annis School of Engineering recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to connect high school students and teachers to the field of engineering. The funds are part of a larger $4 million grant distribution made to UIndy and partnering institutions including Arizona State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland. 

During the next three years, the R.B. Annis School, the University of Indianapolis School of Education, and their partners will use the funds to broaden the impact of Engineering for US All (e4usa), an NSF-funded program that makes engineering more accessible to high school students and educators. e4usa provides an educational curriculum for students to learn and demonstrate engineering principles, skills and practices while training educators interested in teaching. The Annis School will receive approximately $300,000 to support this work and expand e4usa’s innovative curriculum to Indiana K-12 schools. 

“The e4usa program has already made a tremendous impact by creating opportunities for students and teachers to engage with engineering in new and exciting ways,” said Ken Reid, Associate Dean of the Annis School. “The R.B. Annis School of Engineering is thrilled to expand our community connections as we help to introduce students and eliminate barriers to instruction through an accessible curriculum and introduce more students and teachers to the fast-growing field of engineering.”

As an innovative high school engineering program, e4usa has already worked with 36 high schools and more than 2,000 students in 12 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The new NSF funding will help quickly extend e4usa’s reach to include approximately 5,000 students and 50 teachers nationwide, with plans to expand over the next few years. Students are recruited from public, independent and parochial schools in rural, suburban and urban settings. e4usa students explore engineering in society, develop professional skills, and engage in community-focused engineering design experiences, all aimed at helping them see themselves as engineers. 

Locally, UIndy is working with two new e4usa partner schools: Christel House Schools and Positive Supports Academy in Indianapolis. UIndy serves as a university partner for both schools, helping each to offer the e4usa curriculum for the first time.  

“(Through e4usa), I am able to share methods of learning with my students not usually available,” said Paula Huston, Tech Education, Engineering, and Robotics Teacher at Positive Supports Academy. “My school is the alternative school and my students are more likely to not graduate due to behaviors that put them at my school. That being said, e4USA’s programming allows me to show them possibilities and help them think like engineers when it comes to solving problems whether or not they are academically related. The whole process is helpful to students even if they don’t eventually become engineers. I am hoping that our connection will allow more of my students to see possibilities they might not have been exposed to had they not been a part of this program. I think the hands-on nature of this coursework added to the problem-solving methods are two more tools my students will have to obtain success.”

Summer activities double on campus as UIndy expands outreach

The University of Indianapolis is buzzing with activity as summer camps, classes and conferences are in full swing this June. It’s part of the University’s broader goal to engage with the local community year-round by offering valuable campus resources for families, businesses and professional organizations.

Campers in the Radical Robotics Summer Camp made aerodynamic airplanes and rockets and heard from UIndy Director of Engineering Programs Jose Sanchez . The camp was offered in conjunction with the robotics team at Center Grove High School. (Photo: D. Todd Moore)

(Photo: D. Todd Moore)

Between June and August, the University will host dozens of events on campus. Conferences include Teach for America’s annual academy, Indiana Choral Directors Association Summer Conference, 4-H Leadership, National Association of Black Accountants Accounting Career Awareness Program (NABA ACAP), Melody Makers of Indiana and Nitro Circus. Summer camps focus on a variety of sports, including football, swimming, basketball and volleyball and subjects like math, writing workshops, robotics, art and multimedia game development. UIndy summer camps offer opportunities for second graders to grandparents.
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