U.S. Naval Academy Takes First Prize at NACE’s Third-Annual Corrosion Detection Competition

By Cynthia Greenwood
DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office

The DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office congratulates the winners of the 2018 University Student Design and Applied Solutions Competition, sponsored by BP and hosted by NACE International during its annual conference in Phoenix, AZ.

The engineering challenge event, held April 17-18, required eight university teams to build an autonomous system designed to inspect and detect corrosion according to certain specifications.

Six U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipmen took first prize for their Rust Analyzing and Mapping Bot (R.A.M.Bo) during the 2018 NACE University Student Design and Applied Solutions Competition in April. Photo courtesy of USNA

A four-judge panel presented first prize to six midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) for their Rust Analyzing and Mapping Bot or R.A.M.Bo. According to mechanical engineering instructor and team sponsor Lt. CDR Ethan Lust, the USNA design featured a treaded base unit and a three-link robotic arm equipped with a sensor package — an approach that had proven effective at past competitions. “The team built the system from the treads up — selecting, testing, and integrating individual components, and writing nearly all of the code necessary to operate the robot,” Lust said.

During the competition, the USNA team worked quickly and smoothly, identifying 10 of the 12 targets within the competition space and impressing the judges with their detailed report and professional presentation. “I was nervous, but also excited about this project because it involved so many areas where I was not experienced,” said Midshipman 2nd-Class Patrick Moore, who noted that fellow team members shared his sentiments.

“A the start of the project, I knew very little about robotics and corrosion,” said Midshipman 1st-Class Mat Crispell, but “our team’s work ethic carried us through to the end.” In addition to Moore and Crispell, participating students included Midshipmen 1st-Class Cameron Duffy, Brian Long, Sam Valley, and Zoe Soebeck.

Four Louisiana State University students (LSU) won second prize for a robotic system in which a high-resolution camera was mounted to the end of a 5-degree freedom robotic arm, along with a displacement sensor and a distance sensor. Photo courtesy of LSU

Led by Sunggook Park, a mechanical engineering professor, the four-person team from Louisiana State University (LSU) took second place for their design and the sensors that were incorporated into their robotic system. In the LSU design, mounted to the end of a 5-degree freedom robotic arm were a high-resolution camera, a displacement sensor, and a distance sensor. The sensors allowed both depth measurement with micrometer resolution and a provision for photos of 10 megapixels of corrosion back to the operator. The mobility of the system allowed the operators to traverse obstacles as large as 6” in height, as well as a ground clearance of 8.25”.

“The LSU team system’s overall mobility, in combination with its sensor capabilities and its total expense of $3,200.00, produced a corrosion identification robotic system that rivals current industry applications at a fraction of the cost,” Park explained. LSU team members included mechanical engineering students John Burns, Joseph Mundell, and William Stewart, along with electrical engineering student Gilberto Zamarron.

Four U.S. Military Academy (USMA) cadets view their third-place winning corrosion detection design, featuring an extendable arm robot base equipped with LEDs, a web cam, an eddy current device, and a set of ultrasonic sensors. Photo courtesy of USMA

Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Ken McDonald advised the third-place winning team from the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). The design consisted of an extendable arm robot base (iRobot 710 Kobra) equipped with light-emitting diodes (LEDsWebcamluminate the inside of the structure, a webcam to visualize the inside of the box, an eddy current device to detect the depth of the corrosion, and a set of ultrasonic sensors to determine the position of the system and the corrosion in the structure.

The USMA team consisted of two mechanical engineers, Carsten Bahl and Luis Aguirre, and two systems engineers, Madeleine Fortier and Camille Ritter.

Also participating in this year’s event were the U.S. Air Force Academy, George Mason University, The University of Akron, Penn State University, Texas A&M University, and McMaster University.

The DoD Corrosion Office founded the University Student Design and Applied Solutions Competition during the 2015-2016 academic year through a strategic partnership with NACE. During this past academic year, the Corrosion Office provided funding and technical mentoring for the USNA, USMA, and George Mason University teams.

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