By Tom Avril | Posted 18 December 2012
After a 4½-week binge of laser-cutting, wiring, soldering, programming, and debugging, it all came down to the moment when a tall man in a dark gray suit took the stage.
“It’s time to plaaayyyy some HOCKEY!” he shouted.
Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” blared from the sound system. The crowd, many of them zonked from pulling repeated all-nighters, was in a state of near-delirium.
This was Robockey 2012 – hockey played by wheeled robots. It is the culmination of a notoriously tough engineering course at the University of Pennsylvania – taught every fall by Jonathan Fiene, the man in the gray suit – and it is a wild scene.
You thought the Palestra was loud? For sheer concentration of energy, it would be hard to top Robockey. More than a hundred spectators crammed into an auditorium at Penn’s Levine Hall on Tuesday night to watch the violent clash of machine on machine. They spilled into the aisles, alternately whooping, fist-bumping, jumping up, and yelling themselves hoarse.