Gunston Gearios earned second place for “Innovate Award for Robot Design.”
by Dr. Ken Wilson
The “Honey Nut Gearios” Gunston Robotics Team competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) qualifying tournament on Saturday, January 27 in Laurel, Md. This was the team’s final tournament of the FTC season and our robot’s performance was significantly better than in the previous tournament, thanks to the students' determined hard work during the intervening two weeks.
During the previous competition one of the gears that activated the robot's arm broke. It had broken once before and the team concluded that the strain from moving the arm was too much for their initial design. They decided to completely rebuild the arm using counter weights to reduce the strain. This was a daunting task but students worked over weekends and afternoons to complete it in time. They also redesigned the game piece capture system, vastly improving its performance. The goal was to see the arm, wrist, and hand of the robot perform as it was originally designed, and the team was satisfied seeing it perform as they had first envisioned it back in September.
The design of the arm, wrist, and hand allowed more flexibility in manipulating game pieces than other team’s designs. Members of competing teams dropped by to learn about the Gearios’ design and offer terms of praise like “amazing” and “genius.” The judges visited the team three times to ask questions about the design. All of the attention and praise was satisfying and validating for the Gunston students who had worked so hard to perfect their design. In the end, they were awarded 2nd place for the Innovate Award for Robot Design.
I was most impressed team members gave up their free time, coming together to work on the design more than 18 times outside of school hours.It was a real life introduction to the engineering design cycle that far exceeded what could have been achieved during standard class periods.
The team was led by Trevor Janssen ’25 and subgroups were led by Tommy McGeady ’25 (hardware group), Justin McCubbin ’25 (software group) and Eli Moore ’25 (strategy).
Although the competition season is over until next September, the students are fired-up to continue developing their skills. They will be working to refine both the hardware and the software over the coming months. They are also excited to take the robot on tour to local middle schools to share the excitement of engineering and inspire students to consider STEM fields.
Trevor Janssen ’25: Team Leader
Tommy McGeady ’25: Hardware Leader
Justin McCubbin ’25: Software Leader
Eli Moore ’25: Strategy Leader
Owen Daffron ’25: Troubleshooting and fixing all types of hardware
Quinn Baughman ’24, Nevin Porter ’26, AJ Friedrich ’27: Paper airplane launcher (hardware)
Alix Allison ’25, AJ Friedrich ’27: Engineering Portfolio writer/editor
Lucas Watkins ’26: Website and photography (outreach)
Josh Nuessle ’24: Odometry pods for autonomous (hardware)
Phoebe Kelly ’25: Team T-shirts
Willem Grant ’27: Computer vision (software)
- Dr. Ken Wilson
- Robotics 2024