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FSU’s Falcotronix Robotics Club receives $2,000 NASA grant for STEM competitions

BUCKHANNON — Fairmont State University’s College of Science and Technology has secured a $2,000 grant from the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium (WVSG) to support its Falcotronix Robotics Club. The funding aims to enhance student engagement with STEM through hands-on robotics activities.

Falcotronix, a student organization centered on STEM education, participates in VEX U competitions, which are organized by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation.

“Falcotronix has had its fair share of competitions and events,” said Arrington Bucklew, the club president and an 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.”

The NASA WVSG grant will cover future travel expenses for Falcotronix members to compete at various events across the country.

“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.”

Robotics students gain STEM knowledge through practical, hands-on experiences.

“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,” Crihalmeanu explained.

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

The WV Space Grant Consortium, sponsored by NASA, consists of West Virginia academic institutions and corporate and scientific partners. It is dedicated to building research infrastructure and promoting STEM education in the state.

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