Talons Working to Qualify for World Championship for Fourth Year Straight
The Talons, the competitive robotics team sponsored by the College of Southern Maryland, pulled off an impressive finish at a VEX U College Robotics Skills Challenge on Jan. 6 at CSM's La Plata Campus. The Talons earned a high score of 71 at the event and are now ranked first in programming and third overall in world skills rankings.
The team is working to continue its three-year streak of qualifying for the VEX U World Championship. On Feb. 3, CSM will host the qualifier event. The CSM Talons will compete against teams from Northern Virginia Community College, Loyola University, BridgeValley Community & Technical College, George Mason University, New York Institute of Technology, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech and Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology. To continue on to the world championship, the Talons will need to win either Tournament Champion or the Excellence Award at the Feb. 3 competition or qualify based on their world skills rankings.
In VEX Competitions, which are presented by the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge.
The CSM Talons are a six-member team that includes John Hamel of Mechanicsville, Dillon Mandley of Charlotte Hall, Joseph May of La Plata, Edward Gesser of Mechanicsville, George Jenkins of La Plata and Wen Xing Lin of St. Leonard.
Team advisers are William Luyster, adjunct faculty in mathematics/physics/engineering; Ronda Jacobs, information technology faculty and area coordinator; and Bernice Brezina, professor and interim division chair of CSM's business and technology division. “Bill has been very involved with the students in helping them to get their programming to the next level and keeping them on schedule,” Brezina said. “Ronda has been working hard to manage the team, working with the students on the team budget and CSM club requirements and coordinating their involvement with their volunteer work with CSM's STEM outreach activities.”
In addition to competing at the college level, CSM team members are actively involved in running the local middle and high school VEX Robotics league. “They referee, run inspection and do scorekeeping and ensure that the league runs in compliance with the regulations set by the REC Foundation,” Brezina said.
To view the current VEX U world rankings, visit