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Friday, February 27, 2004
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NASA donates robotics equipment to Ohio University

ATHENS, Ohio -- NASA's Langley Research Center turned a long-term loan of robotics equipment into a permanent gift for Ohio University's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology. The donation, including robotic wrists and arm, is valued around $321,000.

The equipment, first brought to Ohio University in 1996, benefits both teaching and research in the college. The donated robot arm and wrists, computers, sensors, grippers, and controllers are part of PC-controlled robotics research in which two or more robots work together on one task. It is the only equipment of its kind in the world.

The robots were originally destined for greater heights. Designed initially for space station application, their weight kept them grounded. Russ College researchers use the equipment for remote operations in hazardous environments.

Because the Russ College found ways to employ the equipment well and because NASA Langley no longer needs the equipment, it now has a permanent home in Athens.

"This is real-world, state-of-the-art equipment that we wouldn't have without NASA," said Dr. Robert Williams, professor of mechanical engineering. "The robotics field has much theory and not enough practice, so we are trying to bridge that gap with research. This unique hardware enables us to do world-class, one-of-a-kind projects," Williams said.

Langley Research Center, in Hampton, Va., was established in 1917 as the first civilian aeronautics laboratory.

The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, educates well-rounded professionals with both technical and team-project skills. The Russ College offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across the traditional engineering spectrum and in technology disciplines such as aviation, computer science, and industrial technology. Research areas currently receiving significant funding include avionics, distributed and secure computing, fuel cells, oil and gas pipeline corrosion, and environmental pipes and culverts. Named for alumnus Fritz Russ and his wife Dolores, the Russ College is home of the Russ Prize, one of the top three engineering prizes in the world.

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Media Contacts: Russ College Director of External Relations Colleen Girton, girtonc@ohio.edu or (740) 593-1488, or Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, jefferyj@ohio.edu or (740) 597-1793.

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