By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University student Roman Kim wondered what it would take to be recognized by Guinness World Records.
Would he have to go all Evel Knievel? The pioneer of motorcycle long-jumping holds the record for the most broken bones in a lifetime.
Or might he have to grow his nails longer than Shridhar Chillal from Pune, India, who grew the longest fingernails ever recorded on a single hand? The last measurement was 29 feet, 10.1 inches before he had his nails cut in July 2018 at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum in New York.
As it turned out, all he had to do – and all the GCU Robotics Club had to do – was head to Louisville, Ky., to compete in the VEX Robotics World Championship this spring, which Guinness World Records certified recently as the world’s largest robot competition.
College of Science, Engineering and Technology Dean Dr. Mark Wooden recently presented the team with Guinness World Records official participant certificates for competing at the event, which ran from April 25 to May 1 at Louisville’s Kentucky Exposition Center.
A record-breaking 1,648 teams -- that's more than 30,000 competitors -- converged for the weeklong celebration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), with teams competing from not only the United States but Canada, China and the United Kingdom. The record was achieved by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, which exists to bring competitive robotics experiences to students around the globe through the VEX IQ Challenge, VEX Robotics Competition and VEX U.
“You guys are our showcase – you are our highlight,” Wooden said at his office Thursday.
GCU Robotics Club chief programmer and social media director Anna Stair’s mouth dropped open and her eyes lit up at the Guinness announcement as Wooden continued: “We’re amazed what you’re getting done, the fact that you did so well. I’m happy I have the opportunity to give you this award.”
In addition to Stair and Kim, who was one of the drivers of GCU’s competition robot, fellow robot driver Ryan Pilon and club president Makayla Jewell also received participation certificates, which proclaimed them "Officially Amazing."
“When I was younger, I read the book about the Guinness World Records. I wondered what I could do to get in this,” Kim said with a smile.
The Guinness organization has been measuring, verifying and recording the world's achievements since 1954. Its mission is to maintain an archive of records "that inspires, engages and entertains people across the globe, and celebrates the world's best."
The Louisville event was one of the 40,000 world records in the organization's database. Of the thousands of applications received every month, less than 5 percent make it to become an official entry in the Guinness archive.
"As a member of this select group, you should be extremely proud of your achievement," Guinness conveyed on the official participant certificates.
GCU's robot competition team, the Thunderbots, did not qualify in the regional competition last spring to make it to the finals of the championship. But judges and VEX Robotics were impressed enough to invite GCU to participate. The team translated that opportunity into an impressive accomplishment.
Although they did not win the title, ending up in the middle of the pack, the GCU students were surprised when the judges chose the team as its Judges’ Award recipient. It is given to the club that shows exemplary effort and perseverance, team accomplishments or endeavors that might not fall under existing awards but are deserving of special recognition.
GCU electrical engineering technology professor Ed Koeneman, the club adviser, noticed that the judges spent a lot of time with the students – about 30 minutes – asking them questions about their robot, their design process, their challenges and more.
“They were so enamored with Makayla and her team and how much they accomplished the first year,” Koeneman said after the club’s award win in the spring.
The club’s first meeting of the 2018-19 academic year was Thursday, though anyone who wants to join can drop in on future meetings. Get on the Remind list by texting 81010 with @gcurobots, Jewell said. The club meets in its new space in Room 349 of the Engineering Building.
Although topping that Judges’ Award at a Guinness World Records event will be tough to beat, GCU’s Thunderbots are gearing up to do just that.
Contact GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.
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