Penn State Abington fires up robot creators

Robotics enthusiasts flocked to the annual Penn State Abington Regional Firefighting Robot Contest last week. Developers of all ages and skill levels entered autonomous robots that were programmed to search a maze for a burning candle and then extinguish it. The contest is managed by Abington Information Sciences and Technology (IST) faculty and students each year.


The firefighting robot contest is a component of the Abington Mobile Robotics Program. The initiative, which has existed since 1996, has four goals:

  •  Education: It provides resources to integrate robotics into the engineering, computer science and information technology curriculum from kindergarten through college. It promotes active, collaborative and problem-based learning as well as teamwork, research, project management and entrepreneurship. Robotics has been integrated into computer engineering and science, first-year engineering design and IST coursework at Abington.
  •  Research: It provides opportunities for undergraduate research in mobile robotics including navigation, artificial intelligence, human-computer interface and innovative educational applications of robotics. The program also offers resources for science fair projects using innovative robotics at the K-12 level.
  •  K-12 outreach: The program promotes student interest in science, math, information technology and engineering careers through training and workshops, STEM integration, mentors, career awareness and community service.
  •  Design contests: The program hosts highly-accessible public competitions and exhibits to promote robotics and provide a focal point for robotics education, research and outreach.

For more information on the IST and Mobile Robotics programs at Abington, go to

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Last Updated April 22, 2013