Robotics: Communicating Complex Ideas
Last Sunday, Gann's three robotics teams took to the stage and made a major impact at the Robotics State Qualifier match in Andover. While the final results are not yet in, Gann has already secured two spots at the State Championship in March, and one Gann team even took home the Think Award for excellence in the engineering design process.
"It's amazing to watch a robot go from idea, to design, to reality," said Nathan Lesser, captain of Gann’s RABBI robotics team. "When you take it to competition, it feels so good to know that barely four months ago your robot was only a dream."
Robotics as a high school sport is about solving real-life engineering challenges. At competitions, two “drivers” use Xbox controllers to manipulate their robots. Points accumulate as robots accomplish tasks like stacking foam cubes, balancing on a platform, or lifting an object in the air. “We work with industry-standard tools, the same stuff that professionals use,” said Nathan. “I’m learning with the same type of 3D design software that NASA engineers use.”
During the six-month season, team members acquire more than just engineering skills. Problem solving, budgeting, fundraising, and marketing are all part of the experience, not to mention interpersonal skills. “Gann robotics is all about collaboration,” says Elise Harrison, Gann's robotics coach. “The students, just like athletes and engineers, are required to communicate complex ideas – often under time pressure.”
Starting next year, Gann students will be creating an all-female-identifying team. “Gann is an inclusive community and our robotics program will reflect this value,” said Elise. “This affinity team will create a safe space for those who are interested in robotics but may otherwise be hesitant to join.”