FHSU team wins robotics championship, top team award at national technology conference

TEECA 2017

04/24/17
HAYS, Kan. -- A team from Fort Hays State University won the national VEX Robotics Championship and was the overall top team at the 79th International Technology and Engineering Education Association annual conference recently in Dallas.

Five top-three finishes - first place in robotics plus three second-place and a third-place finish - put FHSU first overall among the 17 colleges and universities competing. Second, with four top-three finishes each, was Pittsburg State University and Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. The College of New Jersey, Ewing, and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., were third with three top-three finishes.

"Hard work, dedication, determination, and persistence has paid off for a very deserving group of young men and women," said Eric Deneault, assistant professor of applied technology and lead sponsor for FHSU's student Technology and Engineering Education Association team.

Results from the five competitions in which FHSU finished in the top three:
Robotics:
1. Fort Hays State
2. Ohio Northern University, Ada
3. University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls
Problem Solving:
1. Brigham Young
2. Fort Hays State
3. Northern Iowa and Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, Mass.
Transportation:
1. Pittsburg State
2. Fort Hays State
3. Montana State University, Bozeman
Technology Challenge:
1. Brigham Young
2. Fort Hays State
3. Fitchburg
Live Manufacturing:
1. College of New Jersey
2. Pittsburg State
3. Fort Hays State

Fort Hays State competed in seven of the conference's eight challenges, which included, in addition to the five above, competitions in Educational Display, Teaching Lesson and Communication Turn-in.

One student also brought home an individual award. Aaron Elsasser, McPherson (67460) senior, a 2013 McPherson High School graduate, was named the 2017 Maley Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award from the Foundation for Technology and Engineering Educators. The award recognizes outstanding performance and dedication to his work and to TEECA during his undergraduate career at FHSU.

Robotics:
The VEX Robotics Competition required the teams to play on a 12-foot-by-12-foot field. Two alliances - one "red' and one "blue" - composed of two teams each, compete in each match. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by arranging stars and cubes in the zones and by hanging robots on a bar. A bonus is awarded to the alliance that has the most points at the end of the autonomous period.

Points are also awarded in the driver control mode. At the end of both rounds, the points are totaled and a winner advances. The FHSU team participated in 29 qualifying rounds, ultimately finishing with the No. 1 overall seed. In bracket play, FHSU "trounced" the competition all the way to the top, needing only two of three scheduled rounds to claim a national championship, said Deneault.

The FHSU team had one of the most elaborate and interactive robots competing in the ITEEA National VEX Robotics Tournament and went on to defeat the defending national champions, said Deneault.

The team:
Davin Smith, Assaria (67416) junior, a 2014 Southeast of Saline High School graduate, captain; Devin Thomas, Russell (67665) junior, a 2014 Russell High School graduate, engineer, programmer and driver; Christian Wetter, Concordia (66901) junior, a 2014 Concordia High School graduate, engineer and mechanic; Jose Vital, Garden City (67846) senior, a 2013 Garden City High School graduate, machinist and document specialist.

Deneault said that the university's Student Government Association deserves thanks for its support. "The SGA has afforded us the opportunity through equipment request funds to help build our robotics program from nothing into a nationally recognized program in just three years," he said.

"This junior team continues advance and promote FHSU in the finest ways. I look for bigger and better things in the future from this experienced team," said Deneault.

The team's performance at nationals coupled with more than a hundred hours of build time earned it the opportunity to compete in the VEX Worlds competition in Louisville, Ky., said Deneault.

Problem Solving:
In the Problem Solving competition, the challenge requires students to build a model bicycle and motorcycle parking garage unit. The model was to go on display for the owner of AT&T stadium in Dallas, Texas, Jerry Jones, as a potential marketing item to encourage individuals to ride to the game instead of drive.

The TEECA team developed the structure of the model using the department laser engraver, 3D printer, vinyl cutter, CNC wood router and lathes.

The team:
Tanner Swartz, La Crosse (67513) senior, a 2014 La Crosse High School graduate, captain; Brady Hutchison, Hays (67601) sophomore, a 2015 Thomas More Prep-Marian High School graduate, engineer and developer; Danea Buschkoetter, Campbell, Neb., (68932) junior, a 2015 Blue Hill High School graduate, technician; Morgan Gerstmann, Lincoln (67455) senior, a 2013 Eudora High School graduate, document specialist; and Wetter, draftsman and technician.

Transportation:
The Transportation competition challenge was to fly a quad copter from a docking station with straw prisms, match boxes, short straws, short dowel rods, and ping pong balls to a target zone and drop them. The greatest challenge was to design and engineer the mechanism for picking up and dropping the wide array of objects.

The team's second-place finish matched last year's finish.

The team:
Raile Blackburn, Superior, Neb., (68978) senior, a 2012 Superior High School graduate, captain; Joshua Pounds, Concordia (66901) senior, a 2013 Concordia High School graduate, flight specialist; Justin Underwood, Eudora (66025) junior, a 2014 Eudora High School graduate, engineer; and Chase Mundell, Walsh, Colo., (81090) junior, a 2014 Walsh High school graduate, designer.

Technology Challenge:
The Technology Challenge contest, usually a quiz-bowl format in a single-elimination process, tests knowledge about the core concepts of technology, the profession of technology education, and pedagogical concepts such as curriculum, instruction, and assessment. This year's team qualified for the championship round, the first time an FHSU team has gone that far in 11 years. The Tiger team lost, by a single point, a tiebreaker match to Brigham Young University.

The team:
Wade Buck, Grinnell (67738) senior, a 2013 Wheatland High School graduate; Jack Gerstmann, Lincoln (67455) freshman, a 2016 Eudora High School graduate; Blackburn and Morgan Gerstmann.

Live Manufacturing:
In the Live Manufacturing competition, the task was to design and develop a picture frame and set up a manufacturing run to produce a final product. Our Live Manufacturing product was arguably the best product in the room.

The team:
Heather Cleveland, Gypsum (67448) senior, a 2014 Southeast of Saline High School graduate, captain and documentation specialist; Anthony Walters, Hays (67601) senior, a 2013 Thomas More Prep-Marian High School graduate, drafting and design specialist; Dustin Braun, Clay Center (67432) senior, a 2013 Clay Center Community High School graduate; drafting and design specialist; Jackson Bjornstad, House Springs, Mo., (63051) senior, a 2012 Northwest High School graduate, jig specialist and inspector; Buck, design engineer; and Elsasser, design engineer.

For more detail and photos, go to http://www.fhsu.edu/appliedtechnology/News,-Events-and-People/.

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