Mast receives service award from AMD
Max Tane, ECE ILLINOIS
- Dan Mast, Manager of Systems and Services in ECE, received a service award from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) for his 13 years of work on the Jerry Sanders Design Competition.
- The competition is a popular feature of Engineering Open House.
- At the end of the competition, Mast starts planning for the next year's competition.
Dan Mast (BSEE '84), Manager of Systems and Services in ECE, was recognized at the 2012 Engineering Open House (EOH) with a service award from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) for his 13 years of work on the Jerry Sanders Design Competition. During that time, Mast served as an adviser to the student committee of the competition. Over the past 25 years, the annual competition has become one of the more popular attractions at the annual Engineering Open House (EOH). AMD Careers and the student committee of the competition presented Mast with award the event.
“I was really surprised and delighted to win the award,” Mast said. “I really enjoy my time working with students and seeing their creativity.”
In 2012, 20 teams from four different universities competed. Participating schools included the University of Illinois, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Valparaiso University. The two-day competition gives students the opportunity to show their creativity and skills in robotics. The event was named for ECE alumnus Jerry Sanders (BSEE ’58), who co-founded AMD in 1969.
The competition has run on a 2-year cycle, where the type of competition and course are the same for a 2-year period. 2012 was the second year of the “collection game.” Competitors navigate robots through a multilevel course, collecting balls and depositing them in drop bins to score points. EDT Sephiroth from the University of Illinois-Chicago took first place in the 2012 competition.
Mast and the student committee write up a proposal of the competition every year and send it to AMD. AMD provides funds for the prize money and to help reimburse the student teams for their building costs.
“When I started working with the competition, we started reusing materials from last year instead buying new materials for each competition,” said Mast. “It helped our budget tremendously.”
Mast also reviews the rules and regulations after the student committee develops them. The sophistication of the robots and the courses evolve continuously, and the rules and safety guidelines must stay up to par.
When one competition is ending, Mast is already preparing for the next competition. Mast says it takes about 14 months to plan for the competition, a lot of which is spent constructing a course, which now have multiple levels and are modular.
“This year we had the pneumatics system that could take the robot to a higher level and change the floor,” said Mast. “We’re looking at adding floors and walls that move. The courses and robots are becoming more dynamic.”