Robotics team competes in Maryland VEX States competition

Elizabeth Balint, Staff Writer

The John Carroll Robotics team made it to the Maryland VEX States competition with lots of hard work and dedication. Robotics teaches students how to analyze problems to come up with solutions and use hands-on skills to create and design a robot.

Robotics Coach Anthony Davidson described Maryland VEX as “a competition every year when the team gets a specific challenge where they must build a robot out of certain parts that they are given to be able to achieve the task.”

During the competition, the team gets points for the different challenges, and the team with the most collective points wins.

This year, the team consisted of seniors Nick Kruzshak, David Fleniken, Joseph Xiang, and Ty Hensley and freshmen Scott Charlier and Frankie Vento. Not only did these students make it to States, but they were also all new to the team.

Joseph, who worked on the build part of the Robotics team, said that he finds the most challenging thing about Robotics is coming up with the ideas.

“I have to spend hours on YouTube to learn in advance and learn how they came up with crazy design in the beginning. Sometimes I try to build off a piece of a picture from the elite bot.”

Dr. Davidson explained, “The first iteration of the robot was not their best, and specific ideas did not work the way they wanted, but they rebuilt it once and did a lot better, which allowed them to get to States.”

Right before States, the team rebuilt their robot with all the knowledge they had previously gained “which improved it greatly,” Dr. Davidson said.

However, Dr. Davidson wishes the team had more time to better improve the robot the way that they could have.

The team secured a third-place ranking in the Skills category of the last competition.

Team Captain Nick Kruzshak said, “It’s hard to overstate how important team-building is, and that’s what I attribute to us getting this far. Especially since almost half of our team members were freshmen, it was necessary they know how welcoming our school and its academic teams are.”

The advice that senior David Fleniken would give future members of the Robotics team would be to not discount the importance of the design phase.

“Our philosophy towards the beginning was to just build without much of a plan and figure it out as we went, which inevitably led to many problems down the road. I cannot stress enough for future members how important using a CAD software to properly plan and design is,” he said.

What really impressed Dr. Davidson this year was that the team showed a greater amount of growth in a shorter amount of time than he has seen in the past years from any other teams who compete in the Maryland region.