Engineering students, robots converge at Sweet Briar for conference March 28-30

Posted on March 06, 2008 by Suzanne Ramsey

Later this month, there will be robots at Sweet Briar College, and not your everyday run-of-the-mill automatons. Designed and built by engineering students, these robots will do something that should make every housekeeper smile — they’ll wash windows.

The robotic design competition, to be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 29 in Josey Dining Room, is part of the annual American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Student Professional Development Conference to be held March 28 through 30.

According to its Web site, ASME “promotes the art, science and practice of mechanical and multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences around the globe.”

The symposium, which is expected to draw more than 100 students from Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia and the Carolinas, will be held on the Sweet Briar campus and is co-hosted by Sweet Briar and the University of Virginia.

Participating institutions include Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia State, North Carolina State and North Carolina A&T, among others. Sweet Briar’s engineering program, in its fourth year, is in the process of forming an AMSE chapter.

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Areva NP, a nuclear engineering company with facilities in nearby Lynchburg, Va., has donated $5,000 toward conference operating expenses. In addition, the company’s president and CEO, Tom Christopher, will be the keynote speaker at a banquet to be held at 6 p.m. March 29 at the Florence Elston Inn & Conference Center.

On the weekend’s agenda are a career fair and numerous engineering competitions, including contests for technical posters, technical Web sites, oral presentations and the robotic design competition. Events will be held at various campus venues.

Area businesses are invited to exhibit at the career fair, to be held 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at the conference center. To participate, e-mail Sweet Briar associate professor of engineering T.C. Scott at

The symposium is open to the public free of charge, with the exception of the banquet, which is $30. To register for the banquet, e-mail Scott. More information, including a schedule of events, can be found at the ASME Web site.