‘Innovation and Technology is Why We Do Robots’
The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Talons, the college’s competitive robotics team, brought home the Innovate Award from the 2018 VEX U World Championship, held April 25-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.
This was the fifth consecutive year that the CSM team qualified to compete in the world championship, and it is the second consecutive year that the Talons were awarded the Innovate Award. The Innovate Award goes to the team that has demonstrated a strong combination of ingenuity and innovation in designing their robot, and the judges typically recognize a specific, unique piece of engineering that exemplifies thinking “outside of the box” and innovative engineering design.
“The CSM Talons won the Innovate Award because of their skilled usage of 3-D printed parts and their documentation of how the parts they designed optimized the robot’s design and increased its scoring speed,” said Talons Team Captain Edward Gesser III of Mechanicsville.
In addition to Gesser, the CSM Talons includes Paul Goldsmith of St. Leonard and Eudora Tak of Charlotte Hall, with a second CSM team including Team Captain Michael Balazs of California and Cameron Williams of Indian Head.
“Overall, I am pleased with the CSM Talons performance,” Gesser said. “We worked well together as a team and won a majority of our matches. Winning the Innovate Award is a great honor for us because innovation and technology are why we do robotics.”
Talons just missed qualifying for the playoffs at this year’s championship, placing 17th in their division of 43 teams when they needed to place in the top 16 to move on in the competition, making the Innovate Award even more notable. “It’s not usually awarded to a team that does not make it to the playoffs, so it was impressive that the team was recognized with this award,” said CSM Business and Technology Division Chair Bernice Brezina.
The CSM Talons have built a reputation as a consistent contender in the VEX U competitions. Though coming from a two-year college, the Talons have proven to be competitive against university teams from across the United States and the world, including teams this year from China, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Lebanon and Columbia. The number of teams participating has increased, ratcheting up the competition further. Last year there were 62 teams in VEX U, and there were 89 this year. “The team isn’t just about competing, it is also about meeting other diverse students that share the same passion for robotics and learning,” Goldsmith said.
The VEX U 2018 World Champions and winners of this year’s Excellence Award was the team from Xi’an Jiao Tong University in Xi’an, China.
“The CSM Talons are very competitive against other schools, even those with four- and six-year degree programs,” said CSM Assistant Professor Ronda Jacobs, who is one of the team’s faculty advisers, along with Associate Professor Bill Luyster. “Much of this success can be attributed to CSM’s outreach, supporting robotics competitions in K-12 for the tri-county area. The college team volunteers at most of these events, providing a role model to students, something students can aspire to when they graduate high school.”
Brezina noted that CSM’s coursework is a constant that contributes to the Talons’ results. “Our engineering and computer science classes and faculty prepare these students with the knowledge that they are applying when they build their robots,” Brezina said. “As CSM students, they are extending their learning beyond the classroom into the robotics lab.”
“The continuous flow of dedicated and competent team members as well as efforts made to train new team members once they enter the team has kept CSM competitive in the world’s largest robotics competition,” Gesser said.
Gesser will not be returning to the Talons next season as he plans to continue his mechanical engineering degree at University of Maryland, College Park. However, four of the current team members plan to return to compete with the Talons for the 2018-19 season. “I’m eager to work with everyone to see what designs we can come up with for next year’s World challenge,” Goldsmith, one of the returning team members, said.
“The Talons and I are pleased that we were able to bring home the Innovate Award, and I couldn’t be more proud of the team, Gesser said. “They are already making plans for next season.”
The Talons will hold an open house for those interested in the team from 6 to 7:30 p.m. June 19 at the Francis P. Chiaramonte, M.D. Center for Science and Technology (ST Building), Room ST-157 at the La Plata Campus.
The Talons trip to this year’s VEX U World Championship was funded by the CSM Foundation with support provided through members of the community including a donation from the Charles County Economic Development Department and the Charles County Board of Commissioners.”
For information about this year’s VEX U World Championship and the results, visit https://www.robotevents.com/robot-competitions/college-competition/RE-VEXU-17-3806.html.
For information on the CSM Talons, visit http://stem.csmd.edu/events_csmrobot