GMG Robotics compete in Grundy Center as season nears end

GMG Robotics members troubleshoot their robot during a match in Grundy Center on Saturday. PHOTO BY NICK BAUR

It was another week and another competitive meet for GMG Robotics as the team made the trek north to Grundy Center for their penultimate competition of the regular season.

While the team experienced a lackluster outing this weekend, dropping all five of their matches, Coach Andy Schaffer says the group of thirteen students is focusing on building a foundation based on “gracious professionalism” or showing how well they can work with others.

“I’m very happy and thankful for the group of kids I have. They take the reins, they kind of do it, which is what I intended for them to do because, it’s not my robot, it’s theirs,” he said. “They’re learning what it takes to not only be a part of a cooperative team, but also how to manage it, and how to navigate it, how to delegate tasks and that sort of thing. So for me, I’m very happy that I can kind of guide them.”

With the team now in its sixth year in existence, each year provides students with a new opportunity to design and build robots that accomplish certain tasks, giving students practice engaging in problem-solving and competitive teamwork.

“They’re here to compete, and work together and just have fun with it,” said Schaffer “Those kinds of students are great to work with, knowing that I can trust them. It’s just been fun getting to know it.”

This year, the students were tasked with building a robot that could manually stack and move cups across a playing field into different areas and onto structures in order to score points. It’s a delicate dance that sees students continue to come up with unique solutions to various problems.

“What worked for us this year, may not work for us next year,” Schaffer said. “It gives them a fresh challenge to consider different engineering tasks that have to be accomplished.”

Underscoring the competition is the skills students foster as they straddle the many different areas of expertise that are required to keep the team running.

“I want the team to be an open experience for people. I’ve got a few members that maybe aren’t so interested in mechanical or the computer sides,” Schaffer said, citing some students who find their interests lie more in marketing the team or building relationships in the community in hopes of gathering sponsors, something which is sorely needed when the costs of the robots can become steep.

“They’re still a part of the team. They’re still a valuable member. They’re still going to help us find success,” he added.

GMG Robotics will be heading to Ames in two weeks to round out the regular season before embarking into district play in the run up to the state and national competition.