The Founding of Robotic Football

In July of 1995, Brian died as a passenger in a car accident in Virginia while he was home for the summer between freshman and sophomore year. In Brian's first year, he had made many friends and several of their fond memories were captured in a poem written by one of Brian's good friends, Jon Steele (see image). His friends in Morrissey Hall planted a tree in Brian's memory that is now in front of "Morrissey Manor." Many friends and family, also impressed with Brian over the years, contributed to a memorial fund in his honor. Brian's family first asked that the University use those funds to provide scholarship help to a student who exemplified the characteristics highlighted in the poem. This scholarship fund continues.

In the early 2000s, Brian's father discovered a whimsical sketch by Brian of a robot football player. His Dad could not get rid of the image and began thinking about how that might provide a more memorable memorial to Brian. The result was a plan for creating robotic American-style football competition among U.S. engineering schools. The idea was to create excitement around a favorite American obsession that could show the excitement of engineering accomplishments. Working with two other classmates from Brian's Dad's class at ND (Skip Horvath and Vince Cushing), they developed a plan for building an intercollegiate conference. After convincing several ND faculty and Administrators to help make this happen, Robotic football began as an intramural competition around ND ASME capstone engineering design course, with Professors Stanisic, Batell, and Schmeideler orchestrating the initial class work. The University arranged to shift a significant share of the original Memorial fund to now fund this Robotic Football National championship initiative. The winner of the competition wins the Brian Hederman memorial Trophy.

The trophy was designed through a collaborative process of Brian's father and sculptor Thomas Marsh, with an emphasis on using Brian's original sketch as part of the design. The past winners of the Brian Hederman Cup via the Robotic Football Championship are listed on the Championship Records page.