War declared at D&A College - a Robot War!

Zack McGraw and his warring robot
Zack McGraw and his warring robot

Eighteen-year-old Zack McGraw, a D&A College student from Montrose, is taking part in a fascinating contest - the college’s take on the popular TV programme Robot Wars.

As part of their course, introduction to computing students have designed, built and programmed six robots – complete with weaponry ranging from bulldozer blades to a buzz saw.

As a fun way to mark the end of the course the students, working in pairs, pit their robots against each other – each robot trying to knock its opponent out of a ring.

Forward planning is vital as the students have no control of the robots once they are unleashed in the combat area – good programming being the key to success or failure.

“The students have been learning basic programming and problem-solving skills by building robots to perform various tasks, like winning races or exploring simulated planetary surfaces,” said James Oliver, lecturer.

“Robot wars is a fun way to conclude the robotics and problem-solving classes.”

The students created their robots using a system called Lego Mindstorms. The machines are equipped with different sensors to detect the opposing robot and to help stay inside the ring.

And it isn’t just the students who enjoy the fun, two ‘house robots’ designed by James and his colleague George McAteer, join the fray when, as well as fighting their classmates’ creations, each students’ robot must engage in battle with one of the lecturers’ robots.

As an added bout on the day the lecturers’ robots go face-to-face in what could be described as a bit of
 grudge match.

James added: ““George and I have been squaring off against each other for six years and we are currently at three-all.’’