Gunn Robotics Team’s competition season brings early success

At the end of January, the Gunn Robotics Team entered their annual build season, which is a period of time when they prepare for competitions. In preparation for their first competition on March 4th, the team members worked in the machine shop for up to 20 hours a week, fundraising and dying their hair bright red.

Business manager and leadership team member senior Henry Bednarz described what build season is and how they prepared for their first competition. “Build season is where we have six weeks to build our robot from scratch,” he said. “During that time, we have shop times every day after school until 9:00 p.m., as well as on the weekends. There is a minimum of 15 hours per week, but some people are in there every hour, every day.” 

GRT will go through a few rounds of drafting a robot before starting to build their final version. “Our first few weeks of build season are mostly prototyping and designing on our software,” Bednarz said. “And then we begin our first build, Robot 1, our prototype robot. While we’re testing that one out, we’re starting to make new changes to build our second and final version, Robot 2. We then give our control subgroup time to program the whole thing, and then our drivers test it out.” 

After their first competition, the team was excited about the outcome. “We placed third with our alliance partners, out of 44 teams, and we were super happy with the result,” Bednarz said.  

Controls lead senior Ethan Liang explained how the team prepares for the build and competition season. “We normally (prepare) through community projects or fun class projects, like the haunted house at Juana Briones which is good practice for deadlines, practicing our machining and teamwork,” he said.  “After that, we do mock competitions, where our leadership designs challenges and then we build robots for those and compete. Through this process, everyone’s getting used to the machines.” 

Bednarz highly enjoys seeing all the team’s hard work pay off when they finish their robot. “It’s exciting seeing everything come together right at the end,” he said. “You’re so involved with building the mechanisms but you never get to really see them work until everything’s put together, so it’s really rewarding.” 

Liang also enjoys being a part of such a strong commitment. “I love being able to spend so much time building something that works,” he said. “We spend so much time in the shop, 30 to 40 hours per week, and it’s really awesome to see something slowly come together and get better. It’s just really fun and we have a tight community.”

GRT is currently attending a competition in Monterey. This competition would be their chance to qualify to compete on the world stage. “If we place first at our next competition, we’ll qualify for worlds,” Bednarz said.