This Sunday, 82 students and faculty from Notre Dame’s Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Letters, as well as the Robinson Community Learning Center, will celebrate the fourth annual National Robotics Week by displaying their robots in an open exhibition at the Stepan Center. Laurel Riek, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, is organizing the second annual Notre Dame event. Riek also organized Notre Dame’s first National Robotics Week exhibition last year. Riek said the expectation last year was to have a very simple event, but the attendance was much higher than anticipated. “Last year, the plan was to have the event be a one-day, robot-themed science museum to get the public excited about it,” Riek said. “We ended up having over 600 people come to see the robots, and we got an overwhelmingly positive response from the community.” Riek said the event grew out of an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort she implemented in her computer science and engineering course, Autonomous Mobile Robots. “In 2012 I worked with Krista Hoefle, an associate professor of art over at Saint Mary’s. Her art students and my computer science students created robots for the event together,” Riek said. “I realized from that collaboration how art is a great way of engaging the public with robotics. We can design all these fantastic algorithms for our robots, but by enhancing them a little bit with art and making them be interactive, people can start to appreciate all the great engineering going on under the hood.” Jay Brockman, the Associate Dean of Engineering for Educational Programs, said the robotics event is a key initiative in fostering community engagement. “It fits into a grand vision of where we would like to see the college of engineering and the University be in five or so years, and that is to see a much better partnership between the University and the South Bend community,” Brockman said. Brockman also said the upcoming exhibition is important for engendering interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. “A high school student often says, ‘I do okay at math and science but I want to do something that interests people, so I’m not going to major in engineering or science,’” Brockman said. “But by seeing things like Dr. Riek’s work with robots applied to medicine, as well as all the entertaining robots that will be at the event, it shows how interesting engineering is in a way that the community can really relate to.” A variety of robots will be on display and interacting with visitors at the event. For example, graduate students Mike Gonzales and Tariq Iqbal have designed a disk jockey robot. “One of the robots that we are building is a DJ that will not only be playing music but will also sense and then judge how expressive and engaged participants are,” Gonzales said. In addition to the robots themselves, students will discuss some of the underlying mathematics. Graduate student Maryam Moosaei will be demonstrating the facial tracking and pain detection algorithms she and other students in Riek’s lab are using to create more realistic patient mannequins for training doctors and nurses. There will also be robotics-themed prizes raffled off at the event and T-shirts will be sold with all proceeds going to the Donors Choose fund to benefit local Saint Joseph County school teachers, Riek said. Two of the graduate students in Riek’s lab, Maria O’Connor and Cory Hayes, plan to make even the raffle robotics-related, Hayes said. Hayes said the raffle tickets will be accepted by a small robot designed to look like R2-D2 from the Star Wars movies. “We’re going to have a little R2-D2 robot that will wheel around beeping and accepting passports for the raffle, stopping to tell jokes every time someone submits one,” Hayes said. The exhibition will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
What happened over three days in Orlando showed exactly why it’s also one of the league’s rarest.After arriving in Orlando with hope and optimism, he left with his hand in a soft cast and an appointment for surgery.FRIDAY, JULY 1It’s hot everywhere in Winter Park, Fla. Except for the gym inside the high school. The lights are as low as the thermostat as the Clippers summer league team finishes up its last practice before the games begin.It’s a place for the NBA’s youngest players to get acclimated to the nuances of the NBA game, the 24-second shot clock, the extended 3-point line, the illegal defenses and the faster feet and the broader shoulders. ORLANDO – C.J. Wilcox has made it to the NBA.C.J. Wilcox hasn’t made it in the NBA.It’s in important distinction, the kind of two-word difference that can take you from the beautiful, sun-lit atrium of a four-star hotel to jazz-club lighting of a high-school gym – over the Fourth of July weekend.While his teammates partied on yachts, traveled on private jets and signed massive free-agent deals, Wilcox tried to seize one of the most important elements on the NBA’s periodic table – opportunity. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The games are in a relatively empty practice gym, played in front of executives, scouts, agents and anyone else who can score a “media” badge.It’s a taste of the NBA life – just not the full meal.Wilcox and the team are staying at the Alfond Inn, a four-star hotel in downtown Winter Park. To get there, unlike any other flight in the NBA, they, gasp, flew commercial.It’s the kind of half-in, half-out experience Wilcox has been living for the past two seasons.Does it even feel like Wilcox is in the NBA?“I haven’t felt the true test of the season, so in that sense no,” he said. “As far as the travel and everything else, I’ve done that. It’s just playing in the games part that’s untested to me.”And, that’s the part that matters most.After being selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft, the pick was hailed as a victory because the Clippers landed a mature player with a definable skill – shooting – who could help right away if necessary.It just hasn’t been.Buried behind J.J. Redick, who’s had two of the best seasons of his career, and Jamal Crawford, who just won his third Sixth Man of the Year Award, Wilcox has played in only 268 minutes in 44 games.He’s scored 111 points.“I knew it would be hard to come in and play, for sure, knowing the guys they had. But, I felt like I would’ve gotten more of an opportunity,” Wilcox said. “I got my chances, but it took awhile to get them. There were some games where I felt like I could’ve been in there, and just shake things up, see if I could do something.”Things did get shaken up. He started playing games, just not in the NBA. He played in towns like Fort Wayne and Reno and Erie and Grand Rapids.In games for the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam and Canton Charge, Wilcox averaged 18.6 points per game.In between those trips to the D-League and back, Wilcox watched and waited for blowouts, a chance to get some time on the court at least. When he did play, some around him advised him to shoot almost every time he touched the ball to try and make some kind of statement.Those games, Wilcox said, didn’t count.He considers a Feb. 18 game this past season as his NBA debut, when he had actual first-half minutes against San Antonio. He got a chance in the season finale against Phoenix, and with the Clippers’ ravaged by injuries, he even was called upon to fill in during Game 6 of the first-round playoff series with Portland.“It was a bit of a surprise, but it was fun …,” Wilcox said. “Doc came to me and said, you gave me good minutes out there. That was good for me to hear going forward, no matter who it’s with. Just hearing from Doc Rivers is a big deal. That was good for me.”There was reason to be optimistic.SATURDAY, JULY 2This was going to be a chance for Wilcox to prove that the D-League stint wasn’t an isolated success.With confidence from his late-season playing time, Wilcox entered summer league with an expectation to show the Clippers’ brass he was ready for an expanded role.In Canton, he had proven that he can run off screens like Redick, that he was capable of making plays with the ball from the wing.He was going to do more of this, to show he belonged.“Just showing you can play and that you belong in the NBA, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I haven’t had that yet. I’m just trying to stay patient and trying to continue to work. Hopefully, that day will come.”He’d done it before. The best game he ever played in on any level came during the summer – in high school – when Wilcox said he scored all of his team’s points.This wasn’t going to happen again, but as one of the few players in Orlando with multiple years of NBA experience, this was a chance to look like a star.And, minutes into the Wilcox and the Clippers’ first game that elusive element – opportunity – slipped away again.Driving to the basket, Wilcox got the ring finger on his right hand caught in the jersey of Miami’s Justise Winslow.He felt a pain, but he tried to keep playing.Then it got worse. Then he went to the bench. Then he went to the training room. And, then, he came back to the bench, hand wrapped in a soft cast, towel around his shoulder, summer over.He played only 5 minutes and 9 seconds. He took three shots, and he made none.“It’s just frustrating,” he said after the game. “It’s just really bad luck.”SUNDAY, JULY 3His luck got worse.Crawford, who had been flirting with the notion of leaving the Clippers, re-signed for three more years, keeping Wilcox deep on the depth chart.With the bulk of last season’s roster returning, the Clippers will likely keep the practice hours to a minimum. And, without those hours, there won’t be a lot of chances.“That’s the biggest thing,” Wilcox said. “I was telling the rookies, ‘It’s really hard to get Doc’s trust when we don’t practice.’ They were like, ‘Well, how do you…’ and I was like, ‘I don’t have that answer.“…That’s just the way it is.”Wednesday, Wilcox found out that the fracture in his right hand would require surgery on Friday. He’ll be out 4-6 weeks, time he could be shooting jumpers, time he could be lifting weights and running sprints.Again, it’s another opportunity that’s disappeared.Wilcox’s teammates are believers, though.“There are times they’ve told me, ‘We feel like you should be out there because you can help us,’” he said. “That means a lot. When it comes time for game time, that’s never really the case, but it’s good to know you have people on your team rooting for you.”The opportunities that could have been there, the ones Wilcox wants, the ones his teammates think he should get, it’s not clear if they’re going to be there this upcoming season with the Clippers.“I’m a pretty patient guy, so when I say it’s getting hard it’s really hard,” he said with a laugh. “… Everyone grows up and they’re good. The thing with me, I wasn’t always the best player on my team. I wasn’t maybe the best player on my team until maybe my sophomore year of high school. My cousin was always the guy. I just tried to work, and I think that’s why I’m so patient. I had to fight for everything, I guess. I’m treating this the same way.”Whether it’ll be in an empty gym, a court in Canton, the bench in Salt Lake or the final minutes at Staples Center, Wilcox will be waiting.And, when that opportunity comes, he’ll be ready.