George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Mason’s robotics team wins third place in a world championship for the second time

June 5, 2018   /   by Nanci Hellmich

Next year we have huge plans to up our game. We are going to change how we approach our robots’ designs. With the plans we have in store, we’ll become the strongest team in the world.

Josef Spanbaeur

Mason's robotics team placed third in a world championship event.

Mason's SciTech Robotics team placed third in a world championship event this spring.

Mason’s SciTech Robotics team captured third place in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky this spring. It's the second consecutive year that Mason Engineering students placed third at the event.

The team won all its elimination matches against other universities in the United States and around the world before losing to a team from Xi’an, China. That group won the competition. 

“I was thrilled to do that well at an international platform for the second year in a row,” says team manager Afnan Ali, a junior majoring in computer engineering. This accomplishment proves that Mason is on the cutting-edge with robotics, he says.

 “Our 2,000 hours of work were determined in two-minute matches, so the intensity was incredible,” says Josef Spanbauer, a junior in mechanical engineering. He is interning for Micron Technology, the team’s primary sponsor.  

The team’s challenge was to create and operate a robot that picked up and stacked cones onto a mobile device on a game field faster than robots from competing teams. During the event, the robot ran autonomously for 45 seconds, then Spanbauer or his teammate Andrew Bender drove it for one minute and 15 seconds.

The team represents the broad appeal and exposure mechanical engineering has among students, says Oscar Barton Jr., chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and supervisor of the team. “It is a multidisciplinary project bringing together elements of electrical, computer, and mechanical engineering.” 

The engineering students often work long days Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Mason’s Science and Technology Campus in Manassas. “The amount of hours we put into this is the equivalent of having a part-time job, but it’s worth it,” Ali says.

 “Next year we have huge plans to up our game,” Spanbauer says. We are going to change how we approach our robots’ designs.  With the plans we have in store, we’ll become the strongest team in the world.”

Other SciTech Robotics sponsors include Apple Federal Credit Union, University Life, BAE Systems, and Kennis Software, Inc.  

The amount of hours we put into this is the equivalent of having a part-time job, but it’s worth it.

Afnan Ali

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