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Robotic Dreams Become Reality in the Ring

Gann Academy’s four robotics teams got ready to rumble for one final time this season at Needham’s annual Rocket Rumble tournament, which welcomed more than 40 Massachusetts teams. After spending months researching, designing, and constructing robots to take on serious engineering enigmas, Gann’s hard work paid off as their robotic designs became reality in the ring.

Two teams, the Hutzbots and the Aleph Bots, cracked into the tournament’s top ten, while Gann’s all female-identifying team, the Bot Mitzvahs, battled hard and achieve a spot well within the top twenty. For the second year in a row, the MaccaBots laid claim to the prestigious Design Award, recognizing creativity and ingenuity in robotic construction.

"Watching everything come together is the best feeling in robotics," said Zev '21 and Micah '21, captains of Gann’s MaccaBots team. "Coming up with unique and interesting ideas no other team has thought of and finding what works is really exciting. It’s one of the few parts of the process everyone can work on, as it is based on pure creativity and ingenuity."

For this season's competition, points accumulated as robots transported and stacked plastic cubes to build the tallest tower possible. Zev and Micah outlined the design process, describing how robots go from sketches to machines with the help of CAD blueprints and the use of Gann's laser cutter, 3D printers, and CNC router to manufacture parts. "This is why our design process isn't limited," explained the captains. "We have the resources and tools to make anything we can think of."

During the six-month season, team members acquire more than just engineering and computer science skills. Teamwork, collaboration, and project management are all part of the experience, not to mention communication. "Team members develop public and persuasive communication skills from sharing and defending their ideas, both to teammates and to judges," explained Seth Battis, chair of Gann's Design, Computing, and Fabrication Department. "Along the way, there’s a major emphasis on developing agency to master necessary skills independently and to connect to resources such as the coaching staff."