Students to race robots in "Ben-Hur chariot race" re-enactment

Published: July 27 2010


Who: University of Florida incoming freshmen interested in pursuing engineering majors

What: A robotic “chariot race”

When: 2 p.m. Friday

Where: Reitz Union Grand Ballroom

Contact: Dan Dickrell,, 352-392-1196

Background: About 120 incoming freshmen built shoebox-sized robots out of LEGO Mindstorm NXT kits in a summer class on engineering design and programming. They will pit the robots against each other in a race “recreating the chariot race from the movie ‘Ben-Hur,’ except with autonomously running LEGO chariots,” said Dan Dickrell , a UF department of mechanical and aerospace engineering faculty member. The students took the class as part of two summer programs, the Engineering Freshman Transition Program and STEP-UP, aimed at introducing engineering to students who have indicated an interest in the field. The Lego Mindstorms NXT kits played the role of textbooks for the class. “The summer class teaches both the basics of engineering design principles and computer programming to the incoming freshman, enabling the students to visualize and complete autonomous vehicles to compete in the final race,” Dickrell said.