Winning at the Collegiate Level in Robotics

Chiebuka Ezekwenna

by Melissa Curley

            The College of Southern Maryland held its first Robotics Challenge – Collegiate Division, winning against Muhlenberg College on Nov. 3 at the La Plata Campus.

            Engineering positions will always be in demand, said Byron Brezina, a technical engineering project manager at the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NAVEODTECHDIV), who attended and demonstrated two Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots at the competition.

            EOD robots have proven invaluable because each destroyed robot symbolizes a saved human life, which corroborates the importance of engineering technology and learning for students today, said Brezina. 

            The EOD robots provide EOD technicians with situational awareness and are typically used in hostile situations. It’s standard procedure to send in a robot first to assess a potentially dangerous situation, said Brezina.  

            “The CSM engineering students are learning all the controls and structures and it’s basically the same concept,” he said.     

            In the game of “Sack Attack,” the conference room’s projector screen announced the competition of the CSM Talons against Muhlenberg College of Allentown, Pa.

            Both college teams designed and built two robots and each match totaled two minutes, said Bernice Brezina, CSM professor and Talons team leader, as she explained that the first 60-second autonomous challenge was followed by a 60-second remote-controlled challenge.   

            Using a small concourse, the robots scored points according to how many bags each machine could scoop, transport and dispense into center troughs with each match’s results displayed on the projector screen.

            “I want to be a bio-mechanical engineer who makes prosthetic limbs,” said first-time Muhlenberg College team competitor and engineering student, Macauley Breault of Allentown, Pa.      

            “Computers have changed the world,” said former math and physics professor Peter Ezeswenna of Waldorf, whose 19-year-old son, Chiebuka, competed with the Talons team. 

            Chiebuka Ezeswenna wants to be a computer scientist and joined the Talons as an extracurricular activity. “It’s a great environment for practical coding for something tangible,” he said, adding that he also wrote some of the coding and the autonomous for the team’s small robot nicknamed “Overkill Junior.”

            The event attracted local resident Michael McPhee of La Plata and his 7-year-old son, Steven, because he enjoys the action figures and movie “Transformers.”

            Melissa Curley is a student at the College of Southern Maryland enrolled in COM2300 Writing for the Media.