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Students Unlock Potential in STEAM Lab

This year, Xavier has witnessed exceptional minds unlock their potential in the Gannon STEAM Lab.

For the first time in the history of the class dating back to 2005, Xavier has three sections of robotics—with 65 juniors and seniors taking on this challenging engineering elective.

This spring saw students participate in the annual Xavier Robotics Autonomous STEAM Lab Challenge.

“This year, the bracket was big with 17 teams competing,” said computer science and technology department chair Michael Chiafulio P’23. “Each team had two robots and a mini-drone they could program and control to score as many points as they could on the challenge table in two minutes. The theme of the game was a Halo-style capture the flag match. The robots were programmed to use cameras and IR sensors to locate the enemy flag and return it to their home base.”

The final round came down to the number one seeded team Mark Faust ’22 and Aidan O’Mara ’22 facing off against Tommy Tong ’22 and Michael Murphy ’23.

“With both teams capable of scoring points with their main robots, the game came down to aerial combat between the drones,” said Chiafulio. “In an exciting and very close final round, Murphy bested O’Mara to take the championship.”

More recently, the annual Goldman Sachs-sponsored Shark Tank Challenge returned to Xavier.

Last year saw the event take place in a completely virtual setting, making the Challenge’s return that much more special.

Upperclassmen enrolled in technology electives and members of the Entrepreneurial Society took part in the competition. Students formed groups of three and were assigned a representative from Goldman Sachs to mentor them throughout the day. 

Teams were given two random objects at the beginning of the day and were tasked with creating a new product or service based on a fusion of those two objects.

The winning team—Michael Gregg ’22, Josh Scordia ’22, and Senna Emmatty ’22—created a combination of an amusement park and a stadium.

“I had an excellent time participating in the Goldman Sachs Shark Tank Challenge,” said Emmatty. “It was a great opportunity for all of us to put our minds together and devise solutions to real-world problems and scenarios. I appreciated the chance of getting to speak with a Goldman Sachs representative, one on one, and certainly picked up on entrepreneurial qualities and strategies that I will implement in the future.”

“Being a part of, and eventually winning, the Goldman Sachs Shark Tank Challenge was something that I was really grateful for,” said Gregg. “It was truly an honor being able to work directly with Goldman Sachs associates, as they guided and assisted us in honing our entrepreneurial mindset. Not only did they make our time working on the challenge very fun, but they also made it a learning experience that we will carry with us into our college careers. Overall, I think the Shark Tank Challenge was a true testament to Xavier’s dedication to bringing up well-rounded men who are prepared to face the world head-on.”

On Saturday, May 14, Tong and Murphy went on to lead their robotics section against other high school teams in the 2022 New York-New Jersey Regional Botball Tournament in Rahway, New Jersey.

“Xavier Robotics previously won first place overall at the tournament in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2018, and 2019,” said Chiafulio.

The competing team consisted of Trevor Lane ’22Muhammad Zaeem ’22, Murphy, and Tong.

“With a seeding round average score of 497, they crushed every other school at the tournament,” said Chiafulio. “The next highest average score was 123. They scored the top 5 highest individual round scores of the day. They also won the award for Best Programming. Unfortunately, because of poor performance in the Documentation category, they only won third place overall, but they were the best team there.”