MANILA, September 9, 2003  (STAR) By Eden Estopace  - Smart machines and robots designed and created by college students may soon find their way into industries.

At the rate young people are now taking an interest in developing prototypes of machines that have high potential uses in business and light industries, this country may see the emergence of a new generation of technologists who could help minimize our reliance on foreign technology to power our industries.

Consider, for example, the projects developed by students at the Manufacturing Engineering and Management (MEM) Department of the College of Engineering of De La Salle University.

A donut icer, an egg-placing machine, an automated fabric inspector, a golf ball-fetching robot and a vestibular diagnostic chair – these are only some of the selected prototypes assembled by DLSU students who responded to the automation needs of the manufacturing industry and even the medical field.

These and more will be featured in an exhibit at the Ayala Center in Makati starting tomorrow up to Sept. 8.

Dubbed "Construction Site: A DLSU-Manila Mechatronics and Robotics Exhibit," the event aims to showcase students’ works that demonstrate innovations in design and application of modern manufacturing methods and effective management of people and technology.

The MEM program of DLSU has been actively contributing to the development of the field of robotics in the country, offering a multi-disciplinary study approach that aims to expose students to the different aspects of machine development such as engineering design, materials manufacturing, mathematics, electronics, computer studies, automation technology and people and technology management.

This year’s exhibit will showcase projects that have a wide range of applications in the food, poultry and textile industries as well as in sports and the medical field.

One project is called the automated donut icer developed by DLSU students Gregorio Co Jr., Karolyne de la Torre, Michael Anthony Ko, Jeffrey Mendoza and Lexter Sy.

"Donut companies today use manual means to put icing on their donuts. Since the icing is vital to a donut’s appearance, taste and appeal, a strict process must be followed in order not to sacrifice its quality. The company, therefore, must train people to ice donuts efficiently and to ensure its consistency," the students wrote in their project’s problem statement.

The group addressed this concern by creating the Donut Icer, a machine that ices donuts in one sweep while maintaining the quality.

This invention is valuable to the food industry, not only to donut manufacturers but also to bakeshops and pastry manufacturers.

Another project, put together by Verona Go, Jennifer Pascual, Vincent Val Rodriguez, Jason Sarayno and Peteron Yongco, was designed to improve the handling of eggs and minimize breakage, thus improving the quality of eggs distributed in the market.

This egg-placing machine efficiently sorts out eggs into trays and can be a valuable gadget in small or big poultry farms.

For Ma. Katrina Abellar, Nirvana Andaya, Jerico Juico, Carmella Giselle Pineda and Mark Gabriel Simon, producing higher quality textiles is essential to making Philippine textile companies more competitive in the global market.

Thus, they developed the automated fabric inspector, which detects fabric defects and other textile inaccuracies, thus minimizing the release of low-quality textiles in the market.

Another group of students designed and constructed a rotary chair and a set of video googles that can automatically and more precisely diagnose vestibular disorders.

Called the Vestibular Diagnostic Chair, this project of Justin Kho, Jennifer Mae Oliva, Mari Theresa Santos, John Paul Tamayo and Ana Cristina Ticman recognizes that vestibular disorder is a major health problem for many and failure to diagnose it may lead to improper treatment.

This invention, which rules out manual diagnosis of vestibular disorders, would be most beneficial to people in the medical field such as specialists who treat vestibular disorders as well as distributors of medical supplies.

One of the most exciting inventions to grace the two-day exhibit is a tele-operated wheeled mobile robot called the GoFeR (Golf Ball-Fetching Robot).

This machine, developed by Sherwin Ang, Katherine Anne de la Paz, Bernadette Garin, Aaron Joseph Gutierrez and Bryan Kelvin Li, replaces human golf ball collectors in the field and reduces the risk of accidents and injuries.

It is also capable of locating golf balls and navigating through the uneven terrain of the driving range.

"Golf clubs and driving ranges will benefit from GoFeR as (they need) not hire much manpower to locate and collect golf balls in the greens," the students wrote in their project brief.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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