Indonesian Team Wins Trinity's International Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest

80 Teams from Seven Countries Gather in Oosting Gym For Two-Day Event

The PENS team from Indonesia receives the Grand Performance Mastery Prize (GPMP)

Hartford, Connecticut, April 13, 2017 – A team from the Electronic Engineering Polytechnic Institute of Surabaya (PEN) in Indonesia was awarded the Grand Performance Mastery Prize (GPMP) at this year's Trinity College International Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest, which took place on campus April 1 and 2. The GPMP award is the highest honor that a fire fighting robot team can earn at Trinity's annual event, which marked its 24th year.

This two-day event awards cash prizes to the teams whose original robots can successfully navigate a model home to extinguish a lit candle and rescue a doll autonomously. The winners are determined by the best combined score from the completion of three difficulty levels. Awards are also given for a required poster and presentation competition, a Robotics Olympiad Exam, and for the most original and creative robots.

Participants of all ages from the United States, Canada, China, Indonesia, Israel, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates gathered in Oosting Gymnasium with their robots on Saturday, April 1, to begin the first day of the competition. Tim Cresswell, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs, welcomed the 80 robot teams and other robotics enthusiasts in attendance.


Ace McAlister ’20, Mahmood Khalil ’20, and
Matt Evans ’20 with their team’s robot, Trojan
 “We are one of the few liberal arts colleges with an engineering program that gives a different sense of what engineering means from that of large engineering schools or research universities,” said Cresswell. “At Trinity College, engineers are exposed to all aspects of the liberal arts.” He thanked Trinity student volunteers and John Mertens, professor and chair of the Engineering Department and contest administrator, for their hard work and dedication. Cresswell was introduced by David Ahlgren ’64, Karl W. Hallden Professor of Engineering, Emeritus and contest founder and previous administrator for more than 20 years. 

Posters were displayed and judged the first day of the competition. The top 10 poster finalists gave presentations on day two to judges who chose the combined poster/presentation winners. Robot teams could also participate in extra challenges, including the Versa Valve Challenge. Versa Valve, Inc., the sponsor of the event, provided teams with a Versa Valve to utilize in their robot design. Versa Valve Inc. is led by Trinity alumna and CEO Jan Larsson ’77.


Jessy Jones, associate director of alumni relations;
Basil Imana '17, who volunteered long hours to the contest and assisted the Ironbot robot team with their entry;
and Engineering Department Chair John Mertens, the contest administrator

 Among the teams competing, nine were composed of Trinity students. “We are involved with an engineering design course (ENGR 120) and our task was to complete a fire-fighting robot,” said Ace McAlister ’20.  While this was an academic experiment for some of these teams, others chose to participate in the program out of personal interest. More than 20 Trinity students served as volunteers to help the program run smoothly. Trip Slaymaker ’18, reflecting on his experience as a volunteer, said, “These student engineers can do incredible things. Making these robots calls for both incredible math skills and lots of imagination.”

There are four different robot divisions in the competition: Junior, High School, Senior, and Walking. A list of the contest winners is posted online here. For more photos, click here.

Written by Sophia Gourley ’19
Photos by John Marinelli