New club charges out of the blocks with Lego-mobile

March 01, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

The Thunderbots Team, aka the Robotics Club, entered a Lego-mobile in the Derby Kart race during homecoming weekend. 

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau

Spectators at the Derby Kart races during Grand Canyon University homecoming last weekend couldn’t miss the Lego-mobile.

Not only did the red, yellow and blue vehicle mark the arrival of a kart so unusual that it won the derby’s “Most Creative” award. It also served to announce the emergence of one of GCU’s six new engineering clubs.

That the Robotics Club could build a kart — a winning one, no less — just weeks after earning official club status is a testament to its members’ enthusiasm and dedication.

“I’m so excited to see STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) flourishing here at GCU,” said freshman Makayla Jewell, the new club’s president.

The Associated Students of GCU (ASGCU) reached out to the club about three weeks ago to ask it to compete in the derby, Jewell said.

“Since we were short on time and low on manpower to get it done, we came up with a thing that is a well-known material in engineering: Legos,” Jewell said.

Makayla Jewell, president of the Robotics Club/Thunderbots Team, pushes the team’s Lego kart while freshman Hannah Baptista sits inside.

The “Thunderbots Team” came up with a design and used the new Fabrication Lab in the new engineering building.

“We learned how to use the band saw, the table saw and other pieces,” Jewell said. “Through it we gained some knowledge.”

They also gained some advertising value.

“We had a lot of people come up to us after the race and say they had never heard of us,” said Jewell, a Biomedical Engineering major.

The 15-member club already has built a robot named FR (for “First Robot”). “He” is 6 inches wide and 10 inches tall and drives back and forth and left to right, Jewell said.

Five other engineering clubs became official in January. The list, with their initial projects:  

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers: designing and building a trebuchet (a type of engine used in the Middle Ages).
  • Biomedical Engineering Society: developing biomechanics labs and reverse engineering biomedical devices.
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: developing a device to help handicapped children be more mobile during physical therapy.
  • Society of Automotive Engineers: building go karts and focusing on motors and axles
  • Society of Women Engineers: training in woodworking shops.

Jewell said she was excited to participate in forming the Robotics Club because there weren’t many engineering clubs on campus.

“I felt it was really important for some of the STEM departments to have their own clubs,” she said.

Ed Koeneman, a College of Science, Engineering and Technology instructor, is the adviser. Jewell said the purpose is to work on a team, build robots, compete and reach out to high schools.

“We are just now trying to grow ourselves and become a larger team,” she said.

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected]

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