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U of M students present largest robot show in Twin Cities

December 6, 2012

A robotic chicken sandwich maker, a combination lock opener and a walking insect will be among more than 200 machines on display at the University of Minnesota Robot Show 2:40-4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, in the McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis.

The walk-through show is the largest collection of robots assembled in one place in the Twin Cities. The event is free and open to the public and is suitable for all ages.

The show is the culmination of six weeks of work for University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering students in the Introduction to Engineering class who created computer-controlled machines that "do something interesting." Students received a kit of parts, including the computer, and could add no more than $40 worth of their own materials.

"That means the students had to be creative, prowling the back aisles of Target or looking in dumpsters," said William Durfee, University of Minnesota mechanical engineering professor and director of engineering design education. "There are serious objectives to these limits, because in the real world, these future engineers will have to deal with cost constraints when they design things."

The robots must act for no more than 60 seconds and have at least one moving part, but it is up to the students whether the unique machines do something useful (such as sorting silverware or automatically erasing a whiteboard) or exist solely to amuse and delight (like the Rubik’s cube solver or the Dominos placer).

For more information on this event and photos from previous years, visit

Robot show

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