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SU, HBCU partners finish 2nd in Engineering Competition - Monday, July 20, 2009

Four Southern University Electrical Engineering students were part of a three-school team of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that placed second in the second annual Lonestar Challenge Design Competition held recently at Texas A&M University.

Southern students Joshua DuBois, Chad Dugas, Ashton Jones, and Steffon Wiley, along with students from Tennessee State University and Prairie View A&M University, competed as a team against Texas A&M and the University of Texas in a robotics challenge at College Station.

The challenge required the three teams to design and build a remote-operated and undetectable device that could be used to provide surveillance and reconnaissance information to the Air Force, who sponsored the event. The devices were then put to the test in a simulated hostage situation in an office setting.

The Southern-Prairie View-Tennessee State team finished behind Texas A&M and ahead of last year's winner, the University of Texas.

“The three days of competition were very exciting and even though the students put in long hours to create a product to meet the design criteria, they became more knowledgeable about engineering design, and they learned a great deal about how to work with others to accomplish a goal,” said Fred Lacy, associate professor in Southern's College of Engineering.

The three HBCUs formed one team because neither school had enough senior capstone design majors for the competition. The schools also faced other challenges preparing for the competition. The team only met once before the challenge.

The HBCU students had to coordinate efforts with teammates in three different states and also had to meet the challenge in considerably less time than the other two schools - about three months compared to nine months by the other schools.

“Needless to say, our students have demonstrated that when they are challenged, they are hard working, innovative and capable of competing with the very best students from two of the top engineering programs in the country,” said Lacy.