Category Archives: Multimedia

Oakland University Robotics Club’s hard work pays off

Stephanie Sokol for OU SECS

The Oakland University Robotics Association knows the value of hard work.

Taking home First Place for the Main Autonomous Navigation Challenge, Third Place in the Basic Autonomous Challenge, Third Place in the Interoperability Profile Challenge and the Grand Award for Overall Performance at the 22nd annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition didn’t come easy.

“(Winning) was an exciting moment — a stress relieving, load off the shoulders moment,” member Sami Oweis said. “It meant even more for us when we were told that we had just broke a record that was held unbeaten since the Auto-Nav challenge was developed to finish the complete advanced course.”

OU Engineering students Mike Truitt, Brian Neumeyer, Hudhaifa Jasim, Kevin Hallenbeck, Link Lorenz, Lucas Fuchs, Michael Norman, Micho Radovnikovich, Oscar Sanchez Vazquez, Parker Bidigare, Steve Grzebyk and Oweis make up the association.

IGVC was the club’s biggest event, and hundreds of hours were spent building their robot, “Mantis,” to perfect it for the international competition,

allowing them to take home the Lescoe cup for the second year in a row.

Mantis had a wheelchair-based suspension with a lightweight aluminum superstructure, the programming power of two Lenovo ThinkPad computers, a removable electronic box and green lights for effect— a combination the team knew would be effective at IGVC.

And it was— at the Mantis it became the first and only robot to ever fully complete the Advance Autonomous Challenge course which was introduced in the IGVC three years ago.

“This year we were more ready than ever before,” Hallenbeck said. “This meant more time for testing and tweaking parameters at the competition, and reasonable amounts of sleep.”

Students involved say the club is a great opportunity to apply skills honed in the classroom into the real world. In addition, it gave them experience working as a team.

Being involved since IGVC’s start, Oakland Robotics moved up from 20th, 13th and 3rd place, earning 1st for two years in a row, Grzebyk said.

“This was the eighth IGVC I’ve participated in since I was a junior in undergrad in 2007,” said Radovnikovich. “Every single year since then we’ve improved, and it was really nice to see the team reach the peak this year, my first year as an advisor.”

At this year’s competition, Oakland broke the four year record of no team completing the advanced course, making a mark on the industry and the university.

“It will be an honor if the first place trophy graces the hall of the new state of the art engineering building when it opens,” Grzebyk said. “It will serve as a reminder that we must continue with the proud tradition that this team has established, excellence in engineering and hard work.  Now it falls to the senior members to step aside and help train and mentor a new generation of eager engineers.”

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Michigan Pinball Expo returns for fifth year

Stephanie Sokol and Stevie Thieda for The Pit

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Five years ago, John Kosmal started the Michigan Pinball Expo to unite local pinball machine collectors, and increase the sport’s popularity among people of all ages.

“The idea behind it was, we had a bunch of collectors in the area that were into collecting pinball machines,” Kosmal said. “We just wanted to get everyone together, to do a show for the public and try to build the hobby, the sport– get people playing pinball again. Because to be honest, people 20-years-old and younger really haven’t seen pinball machines around.”

Since then, through social media and word of mouth, the event has grown and evolved.

With more than 110 machines from the Brighton Arcade, Marvin’s Marvels and Kosmal himself, the expo offers patrons the chance to enjoy more than 57 hours of game play this weekend, in a fun environment that brings back the love of the game.

“We want this to be a family-friendly event,” he said. “We want people to bring their kids and experience the things that they experienced, whether it was in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. We have old women coming in, saying they used to play it with their dad, or grandpa.”

“It’s really something that touches all ages, because pinball’s been around with flippers since 1947, but it’s been around since the 1800s, so pretty much everybody alive has probably played or seen a pinball machine at some point– there’s nobody older than pinball.”

The Michigan Pinball Expo hosted Oakland University's Oakland Center, is in its 5th year. Photo/STEPHANIE SOKOL

The expo gives people access to antique games dating back 50-70 years, including the 1947 Humpty Dumpty, in addition to wood-rail games from the 50s and 60s. While there are a lot of vintage machines available for play, there are also newer games to try, like this year’s Ford-sponsored pinball that projects onto a screen above.

Doug Schildercrout and Mike Herr are two Ford employees who have been coming to the expo every year after seeing a poster at work advertising the event.

Not only did they come to the expo this year to try out the Ford Mustang pinball machine, which just-so-happens to be the newest pinball machine on the market, but they also came for their love and appreciation of the game itself.

“There was a time period in the 90s when all of the good machines were made- the newer ones aren’t as difficult,” Herr said.  “We come here to play on a wide variety of machines that usually work very well.”

Another draw to the expo is the competition. Kosmal said the constantly-evolving show brings people from around the world to compete in the daily and main tournaments, which offer cash prizes of $500 and $1,000 for first place at the different levels.

“I’ve been playing pinball since I was a kid,” said Sean Pitzer, a Troy, Mich. resident.  “The tournaments are fun since they are based on skill, but I’ve never won any money from them.”

Parker Thomas, from Commerce Township, has been a part of the expo every year.  He helps fix as well as maintains the machines.

“What I like about pinball is that it’s still a physical game, unlike video games,” Thomas said.  “That being said, the machines need a lot of maintenance.  They need to be cleaned about once a week and the rubber parts have to be replaced frequently.”

Marco Specialties is a company based out of South Carolina that travels with the expo, selling general parts to collectors who may want or need to improve the appearance of their pinball machines.

Company representatives have the ability to take orders and send out products directly from the expos, since they tend to draw crowds from all over the world.

“Its fun to educate people on pinball,” said company representative Brennan Smith.  “Many people still don’t know that (the machines) are still being made today.”

While Texas has drawn one of the expo’s largest crowds, the Michigan show has proven to be smaller in scale, with a more personable environment– providing a great pinball experience.

“Pinball just has a randomness to it that you can’t program,”  Kosmal said. “It’s physics and geometry gone wild. Video games are programmed, you can find programs, then you throw the cartridge away because you’re bored with it. But with pinball, there’s guys that collect games that are older than they are. There’s randomness to it– no two games are ever the same. No two machines are ever the same. Everything’s different, the sounds the lights, the scoring the strategy. Video games are checkers, while pinball’s chess. You can develop different ways to play the game. In pinball there are no patterns, if anything there’s just total chaos.”

The Expo continues Saturday, April 5 until midnight,  and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Oakland University’s Oakland Center. Tickets are $20 for 16 and older, $15 for age 4 to 15, I.D. required at the door. For more information about Michigan Pinball Expo, check out their website, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Pure Environment: Everybody can help save the planet

For Laughter as Therapeutic Modality, we had to choose a topic to create a public service announcement commercial for. We chose environmental conservation. Our Pure Michigan Spoof shares a message about the need to make an effort to improve the environment.

Lucky Leprechaun Race leaves Utica seeing green

Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Post

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People flaunted their green apparel and clover leaf accessories early this ??????????????????????????????? weekend, as Utica DDA hosted its first-ever
Lucky Leprechaun Race.

A costume contest gave 471 runners and walkers an opportunity to show off their St. Patrick’s Day style, while the 5K and Green Mile races encouraged physical fitness, according to Thomas Gray, chairman of the Macomb Health and Fitness Foundation.

“(It was) great weather and everything I thought it would be,” Gray said. “Once the runners assembled at the starting line, I think the community felt the power of so many people gathering for this race in their city.”

Tutu skirts, tinsel wigs and green tuxedo shirts were popular among runners. In ???????????????????????????????the costume contest, best group went to Traci Cunningham, Celeste Hall, Melissa, Shelby, Dakota and Kendel Evans, who called themselves “the Lucky Charms.” It was Dakota’s first race.

In the best adult costume, Sarah McCormick won first place for her green tutu look.

Max Woodford, who ran with his family, won best costume in the child category for his fluorescent green wig and cape. His mother, Danielle Woodford, said they were going for the “family superheroes” look. ???????????????????????????????

“We thought (the race) would be a fun family activity to kick off spring,” Dan Woodford said. “We started with the green clothing and went from there.”

First place in the 5K went to Danielle Miller of Clinton Township. She said ran for her father, Dale Miller, who has cancer.

Members of the Sterling Heights Chamber participated in the race, and volunteers from Macomb Children’s Hands On Museum and City of Utica Park and Recreation Department helped make the event possible, Gray said.

???????????????????????????????Sponsors included Team Fit, The Macomb Daily, Macomb Health & Fitness Foundation Inc., Renewal by Anderson, Health Quest, Muldoon’s Local Tavern, Rizzo Environmental Services and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Runners’ ages widely ranged from Harrison Hensley, 81, who ran the 5K, to Diana Vandoren, 2, who ran the Green Mile with her grandfather Richard Howell.

“I had a good time (running),” said Marilyn Myrna, Harrison Township resident. “This is my third 5k this year and was my best time so far. It was a good course. I’d never been through the graffiti tunnel. It was really fun.”


San Francisco Street Style: Photo Gallery

This gallery contains 30 photos.

I spent last weekend in San Francisco for the Associate Collegiate Press Convention. In our free time, we discovered the city. Style was all around. Skinny jeans, boots, moccasins and scarves were among top popular looks for Californians in the … Continue reading

Flavor Flav’s Chicken & Ribs

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