Department of Computer Science

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Welcome to the Department of Computer Science
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The Brain Team!

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The NASA Lunabotics Contest ( awards a big chunk of points to any team that can field a robot that can gather at least 10 Kg of synthetic moon soil all by herself. To do that the robot needs at least some rudimentary intelligence. She must navigate around the contest "sand box" on her own, avoid the pits and boulders in the obstacle area, mine some synthetic moon soil, go back to the NASA LunaBin, unload her mined soil, and repeat this process as many times as she can in 10 minutes. Last year's Tech entry, Molly Moon Miner (discussed an article below) was just a remote controlled device. The senior design team shown above (clockwise from the bottom left: Reid Alford, Jordan Yates, Zach Wormgoor, and Mitch Meyer) has taken on the challenge of creating the infrastructure to provide the next Tech entry with enough on-board "smarts" to take just a "go" signal from "home" and do the job just described without any futher instructions.


Would-be Creature From Outer Space Visits the CS Department

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Meet Molly Moon Miner (MMM). She lives very quietly (turned off - we have to keep recharging her to keep her alive!) in the basement of Main Hall in the new Software Engineering Laboratory. Our senior software engineers are working hard to give her eyes and some brains so when she is let loose at the NASA Lunabotics contest she can win the contest for Montana Tech without any remote guidance from Tech's mining students! Actually it won't be Molly who gets to go to Cape Kennedy in 2014, but her yet-to-be-built daughter Polly (PMM). Meanwhile, Molly is letting our seniors use her too-heavy frame, her treads that keep falling off, her sticky shovel, and her smoothly-working bucket as a test vehicle for their in-the-making software.


Professor Awarded Undergraduate Research RAMP Grant

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robot 2On the last day of the fall semster, Montana Tech awarded Prof. Frank Ackerman a RAMP/URP grant to commence research on using virtual robots in virtual environments to aid in the development, maintenance, and deployment of real robots in real environments. The screen shot is from one of the project's first experiments: creating a mechanism in Autocad 3dsMax, inserting it into the Alice virtual environment, and then creating Alice code for a simple movement. 

In this project Prof. Ackerman, his CS Department volunteer, architect/artist Phil Winninghoff, and a team of as many as four freshman, sophomore, or junior undergraduates will conduct many such experiments with several different virtual environment systems. One immediate project goal is to support the development of the software engineering Senior Design team's project to provide fully autonomous operation for a NASA contest robot that can mine the surface on the moon.  



FIRST Robotics Competition Results

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RoboticsFIRST1A FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Competition was held on Saturday December 15th at Montana Tech in the HPER. The tournament included 12 teams from across Montana competing for the right to qualify for the state championship to be held in Bozeman in February.  Dr. Michele Van Dyne from the Computer Science Department helped organize the event with assistance from Oracle employees in Bozeman. Over two dozen volunteers from Montana Tech (including faculty and students) and Oracle helped put on the event that ran from 10 am to 3 pm.


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