Fairmont State’s robotics club receives $2,000 NASA grant for STEM projects

Fairmont State University’s College of Science and Technology has been awarded $2,000 in grant funding from the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium (WVSG): Support for Student Organizations and Higher Education Student Projects in STEM. The funding will support the Falcotronix Robotics Club, a STEM-focused student organization that aims to help Fairmont State students learn about STEM principles through practical engagement with robotics.

Falcotronix members participate in VEX U competitions organized by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, a STEM curriculum-based robotics engineering competition organization.

“Falcotronix has had its fair share of competitions and events,” said Arrington Bucklew, Falcotronix Robotics Club President and Electronics Engineering Technology senior. “We have attended three regional competitions and the VEX U Semifinals this year, where we received the Excellence Award—a qualifying award that invites us to the VEX U Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas.”

Funding from the NASA WVSG will pay for future travel costs for Falcotronix members to compete nationwide.

“A faculty member’s dream is to see their students engaged in high-level, international competitions related to the domains they teach,” said Musat Crihalmeanu, Associate Professor of Electronics Engineering Technology, Falcotronix faculty mentor, and principal investigator on the grant. “Advising students and ensuring they have the best conditions to compete and win in robotics—that is a dream come true.”

Students in robotics learn about different aspects of STEM through hands-on interaction.

“The action of building robots is complex and incorporates assembling hardware pieces like electronic motors, valves, and sensors, which is present in the engineering component of STEM. The science and technology components are present in physics and computer sciences used to design code to produce the programs downloaded in the ‘brains’ of the robots,” said Musat.

“There is no better way to understand the material in my textbooks than to engineer and create something from scratch,” said Bucklew.

WV Space Grant Consortium is a NASA-sponsored organization comprised of West Virginia academic institutions and corporate and scientific partners. WVSGC is dedicated to building research infrastructure and promoting STEM education in West Virginia.

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