May 21, 2019

Robotics Team Headed for Worlds

Robotics Team
Members of the CSM Talons celebrate their finalist trophy at the Feb. 9 VEX U Regional Qualifier, including, from left, Paul Goldsmith, Eudora Tak and Team Captain Ed Gesser III.

CSM Talons Qualify for VEX U World Championship for Fifth Consecutive Year

The College of Southern Maryland Talons Robotics Team has qualified for the fifth consecutive year to compete at the VEX U World Championship. This  pinnacle of the university-level robotics competitive season will take place April 25-28, 2018, in Louisville, Ky.

“The Talons’ consistent success is remarkable considering CSM is competing against many four-year schools and even graduate-level students,” said CSM Assistant Professor Ronda Jacobs, one of the team’s advisers with Associate Professor Bill Luyster.

The Talons earned their spot at Worlds when they competed at the VEX U regional qualifier Feb. 9, 2018, against teams such as George Mason University, Loyola University, New York Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, Rutgers University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, and IFI, a multi-college team that includes students from several colleges in Connecticut. The Talons placed second after the IFI team, securing a finalist position and earning the team a place at the April international competition.

The CSM Talons team includes CSM students Team Captain Edward Gesser III of Mechanicsville, 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.

The Talons’ greatest strengths are robot design quality and the ability to function well as a team. “We had multiple designs that were iterated over time so that at the time of competition, we were using the best design,” Mr. Williams said.

“Through a subsystem-based design, each team member became proficient with a particular function of the robot,” Mr. Gesser said. “We also made use of various 3-D printed parts to decrease weight and improve functionality of the robot. The Talons also emphasized build quality and a robust design in their construction of their robot, increasing the probability of success.”

Mr. Balazs said the Talons’ success comes from three things — “The dedication of all of the students; the experience of our senior students and mentors; and the chemistry between our team members.”

Ms. Jacobs said being a Talon goes beyond showing up for the competitions and extends to being an advocate in the community for robotics and engineering events. “The team’s dedication to robotics and to supporting future engineers in the region is commendable,” she said. “The team volunteers at all the CSM-sponsored robotics competitions for youth in the tri-county area and they compete at the college level. At the same time, they work on their robots three to five days a week when not in class.

“Their work has built a reputation to high school students entering CSM as the team to join and a reputation to other college teams as the team to beat,” she said.

Competing in the VEX U World Championship is always the goal for the Talons. The competition draws teams from inside and outside the US, including China, the United Kingdom, and Mexico.

Every year, VEX U creates a new challenge for the teams. This year’s challenge, called “VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) In the Zone,” is played on a 12-foot-by-12-foot field. Two teams compete in matches that include a timed period of autonomous play and then a timed period of driver-controlled play.

“Robots are designed to stack cones on objects called mobile goals, and move around the mobile goals into zones to score points,” Mr. Gesser said. The object of the match is to get a higher score than the opposing alliance by performing these tasks with their robots.

The CSM Foundation sponsors the Talons’ trip to the world championship. Sponsorships help pay for equipment, travel to competition and outreach events, and team shirts. To get involved, donate to the CSM Foundation, specifying “CSM Talons Robotics” as the designation, on the donation website.

To view photos from the Talons’ qualifying competition Feb. 9, visit CSM’s photo sharing site.

For information on the Talons, visit CSM’s STEM site.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.

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