SALT LAKE CITY — A college professor, a promise to his students, and a hit TV show. It was those three things that all collided for one Utah man Monday night.
You could say the research lab at the University of Utah was the place where mechanical engineering professor, Steve Mascaro, exercised the mind.
His lab was full of puzzling projects, computer code, and of course, robots still in the conception stage.
In his 13 years at the University of Utah, the professor has learned ways to get students to do their homework.
“I wanted to give my students a challenging obstacle course to inspire them,” said Mascaro. “I thought, how about Ninja Warrior?”
The professor not only respects all things robots – he has loved the show, American Ninja Warrior.
“All of our obstacles were inspired by some of the obstacles the real life ninjas do,” he explained as he showed off the course.
Undergraduate students in his Mechatronics class were given a semester-long project to create a robot to conquer the course from beginning to end.
“I made a bargain with my students on the first day of class,” he said. “If they can finish the course, I will train and try to get on the show and do my own obstacle course.”
Sure enough, his students proved they had the brains to complete the task. It was time for Mascaro to show he had the brawn.
“At first, I was the weakest guy in the gym,” he said.
In between teaching classes and working out, he put together a little submission tape for producers of the show.
On Monday night, he appeared on American Ninja Warrior, fulfilling his promise.
He didn’t quite complete the course, and fell into the water earlier than he had hoped, but he felt good about what he accomplished, proving that in his classroom, strength of body and strength of mind can collide.