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SDSU Robotics Club receives $10K grant

Robotics Club members assemble a robot
SDSU Robotics Club members, from left, Keegan Visher, Connor Olson and Maverick Beckmann work on the assembly of a 30-pound robot, nicknamed “Roadkill,” which they will enter in a collegiate combat robotics contest March 18. The club has received a $10,000 grant to help its robot-building efforts.

The robotics club at South Dakota State University is better equipped to enter a collegiate combat robotics contest this spring after receiving a $10,000 grant.

The SDSU Robotics Club received notice Jan. 27 that it was among 100 college robotics organizations receiving a $10,000 award from the Norwalk Havoc Robot League in Norwalk, Connecticut. The grants are designed “to help inspire innovation and provide robotics teams with resources they need to reach their full potential,” the league stated on its website.

Hailey Gruber, president of SDSU Robotics Club and a mechanical engineering major from Richmond, Minnesota, said the funds will be used to purchase materials and pay competition costs for a March 18 competition in Norwalk.

SDSU will enter teams in the 3-, 12- and 30-pound divisions. In the contests, robots go head-to-head with another team’s robot for three minutes in an enclosed cage with the goal of advancing to the league’s final four.

The club is a regular participant in the Norwalk Havoc Robot League. In fact, at a May 2022 contest, SDSU’s entry in the 30-pound division qualified for the championship in December. However, a winter storm prevented the team from attending. “That is making this next trip much more exciting,” Gruber said.  

“Right now the 30-pound team is making minor changes to their robots. They are also working on making a test pit so we are able to safely test the robots before heading to Connecticut. The 12- and 3-pound teams just finished ordering their material and are waiting for it all to arrive.

“The goal is to have all robots competition-ready by Feb. 27 to test them and learn how to drive the robots,” Gruber said.

SDSU Robotics Club has 25 active members. Students from any major are welcome.

In addition to collegiate combat robotics, the club is working for an alumnus to build an autonomous sprayer to spray pesticides to control Japanese beetles in a vineyard.