Hurricane! computer game to hit Tampa, FL science museum
Researchers here have wrapped up a four-year $365K tasking from the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University to create an interactive game that shows how hurricanes form and illustrates their destructive power. NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) sponsored the research.
A version of the game Hurricane! is part of the Tampa, FL Museum of Science and Industry's "Disasterville" exhibit that illuminates the science behind weather-related natural disasters.
Hurricane! users can create weather conditions to see how they influence the track of a storm. They also can "build" houses of various materials to see the result of high winds on different construction methods. The program shows a hurricane's effect on urban and rural construction and how proper use of trees and other landscaping can help prevent
The Hurricane! exhibit is scheduled to travel to the National Science Center of Trinidad & Tobago followed by a five-year tour of that island's schools to educate the citizenry on hurricane disaster planning.
In its most robust form Hurricane! runs on a high performance gaming computer, but IST developers also created a version that runs on PCs most often found in school classrooms. The game was designed to fit into a two- to five-day middle school weather curriculum.
About 15 students employed at IST worked on this project. Modeling & Simulation Graduate Program student Dezhi Liao developed and tested physics-based rules for the game and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the project. Another graduate student, Bob Manavi produced his master's thesis from his research. Several other graduate students worked on
Hurricane! on the way toward their Ph.D.
Glenridge Middle School (Orange County, FL) art teacher Mrs. Poppy Kincaid arranged for field testing at her school of the first museum exhibit.
UCF Robotics Club takes top prize at Autonomous Surface Vehicle meet
Bringing home $8,000 in prize
money was only part of the satisfaction.
UCF's Robotics club rejoiced in the results
of 10 months of planning, building, programming
surface vehicle (watercraft) competition,
staged in San Diego by the Association
for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
(AUVSI), is a relatively new category.
Last year, UCF participating for the first
time in a demonstration category,
was the only team to complete the obstacle
course. At this first official competition
for surface vehicles UCF went up against
more difficult challenges, including channel
navigation, rendevous, docking and object
recovery. Planning for the August 7 - 9,
2008 competition began during Fall of 2007.
"Son of a Boatname," UCF
Robotics Club's 2008 Unmanned
Surface Vehicle entry in the Autonomous
Vehicle Competition sponsored by the Association
for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
and Office of Naval Research.
Teams from Florida schools Embry-Riddle
University, Florida Atlantic University
and UCF competed against Ecole de Technologie
Superieure (Canada), the University of
Michigan and Villanova University (PA).
SOAB's successes netted a cover picture
(right) and two-page story in the September
issue of Unmanned
Systems, AUVSI's magazine
for the unmanned systems community. See
the recent online results here.
Chris Bunty, Ross Kerley, Jonathan Mohlenhoff,
Cassondra Puklavage and Gary Stein saw
the project to its successful completion. "Son
of a Boatname" is
a 40-inch long and 36-inch wide platform
for propulsion system, water cannon, GPS
compass, adjustable camera and software.
At roughly 30 lbs., it was the lightest
vehicle in the competition. With the exception
of the hulls, which the team purchased,
all work on the vehicle was completed at
the robotics lab at IST.
The UCF Robotics Laboratory
is a group of undergraduate and graduate
students with a passion for robotics. The
group builds advanced autonomous robots
for competition and research. Information
about many of these projects can found
at the lab's website.
The laboratory is supervised by IST faculty
advisor Daniel Barber. A subunit of the
lab, the Robotics
Club at UCF is headed by Gary Stein.
The autonomous robotics teams are currently
working on ground, underwater, surface,
and aerial vehicles.
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