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The Student News Site of Fairmont State University

The Columns

Fairmont State Robotics Team Wins Top Award at Regional Tournament in Maryland


The Fairmont State University Robotics Club has come a long way since its inception only a couple of years ago. Yet our hometown underdogs have continually soared to greater and greater heights in competitions throughout the region, defying all expectations.

Their most recent unprecedented victory came from the VEX U regional tournament in Salisbury, Maryland, on Friday, February 23rd, hosted by Salisbury University. This “Seagull Showdown”—so-named for the Salisbury mascot—featured array of teams from Capitol Technology University, College of Southern Maryland, Fairmont State, George Mason University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers, University of Delaware, and Virginia Tech.

VEX Robotics is the world’s largest robotics competition league for students ranging from the elementary school to university level. VEX U is a collegiate-level robotics competition presented by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, with approximately three hundred teams worldwide. Teams design, fabricate, assemble, program, and document two or more robots to compete against other teams in an annual game.

The journey from the Fairmont to Salisbury was an arduous, six-hour drive across the state lines, which in the team struggled to keep themselves entertained and their morale high. The team trekked so far east that they eventually came to a hotel barely more than a stone’s throw away from Delaware. No one anticipated the outcome of this tournament, especially not Falcotronix themselves—Falcotronix being the student organization’s special team name for these matches.

The competition was tense. On the field, Falcotronix placed second in the qualifying round and were eliminated in the semi-finals by eventual champions Virginia Tech. They also finished second in the skills challenge portion of the event.

“We knew that we would compete with some of the best VEX-U teams from the Northeastern US, but by now, just the name of a big competitor would not impress us!” Professor Musat Crihalmeanu, the FSU Robotics Club faculty supervisor, told Columns. “Among the fierce competitors we had to face: SCAR 1 and 2 (teams from Rutgers University, NJ), NJIT (the New Jersey Institute of Technology), UDVEX (the University of Delaware), VTCRO (Virginia Tech Hokies, VA), Mason University (Fairfax, VA), CAPITOL Chargers, MD, and the GULLS, Salisbury University, MD, the host of the event.”

“We had a very good start in the qualifier and won our first 4 matches, respectively with Capitol 1, NJIT, SCAR 1 and MASON,” Professor Musat explained. “We were first even after we lost our fifth match against UDVEX due to mechanical problem with one of the robots, because of an excellent score in SKILLS, another competition going in parallel with the qualifier games.”

Ultimately, FSU placed second out of ten in the qualifier, having lost in the Playoff Semifinals to Virginia Tech. The biggest upset, however, was still yet to come.

While Falcotronix did not place first in either the game portion or the skills portion of the event, their dedication nonetheless was finally rewarded. Due to their outstanding application of engineering principles in the design of the robot, as well as a superb engineering book (a necessary feature of the competition, which includes schematics and programming details) and a great interview with the event judges, in which the team explained their design process,

Falcotronix received the Excellence Award at Salisbury—a sort of ‘Best in Show’ prize for the most well-constructed robot!

The Excellence Award is the top award in the VEX U program, combining high performance on the field with quality engineering documentation communicated through an engineering notebook and team interview. The Excellence Award also comes with an invitation to the VEX U World Championship, April 28th to 30th in Dallas, Texas, which FSU Robotics eagerly look forward to attending!

The team would like to thank their sponsors and supporters on campus, including the NASA IV&V Education Resource Center, College of Science & Technology, Dr. Todd Ensign, Dr. Steven Roof, and Jolie Carpenter.

The Robotics Club is always eager to accept new members. Requirements are a 2.0 GPA for members and a 2.25 GPA for officers. All majors are welcome to join! To learn more visit or contact Professor Musat Crihalmeanu through his email at [email protected]. For more information on the team chief sponsor, NASA’s Education Resource Center, visit or ask John Holbrook, Robotics Outreach Specialist, who can be often found in Wallman 321 or reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Emily Deal
Emily Deal, Staff Reporter
Emily V. Deal is a senior from Ashton, WV, majoring in Electronics Engineering Technology. She seeks to someday publish a novel. Her hobbies including daydreaming, chasing chickens, cosplaying at renaissance faires, and collecting crystals, comic books, preserved animal specimens and wild golf balls fresh from the field.
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