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Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing

  • Gamecock Robotics Club

Fulfilling a passion for robotics

Founded in 2021, the Gamecock Robotics Club (GRC) has quickly evolved into a powerhouse of innovation and competitiveness. 

According to GRC President Savannah Huffman, the group is a testament to the passion for competitive robotics. "I knew that I wanted to start the first competitive robotics team here,” Huffman says. “It's fun, and I love the competitive aspect and being able to apply engineering principles more practically."

Initially, funding for robot parts was one of the club's major hurdles. "While the university can help fund trips and daily meetings, they don't have a specific process for funding reusable equipment. So, we've had to look to outside sponsors,” Huffman says.

Fortunately, a local high school was willing to loan them the parts for their first season until they were able to start fundraising themselves. While still facing challenges such as funding, GRC has garnered significant success, including winning prestigious accolades like the excellence award at a regional competition in Maryland last year. It was the highest award a team could earn at any given competition. In their first year in 2021, GRC won the judges award at the world championships and won the create award at the same event last year.   

The club is also actively involved in promoting STEM education in the community. Huffman highlighted their participation in events and competitions for elementary, middle and high school students. "We want to incentivize these kids to say, 'Hey, engineering and STEM is really cool,” Huffman says.

On Saturday, December 2, GRC hosted a large middle and high school VEX competition with around 50 participating teams. While it was their first competition to host, GRC strategically designed this event as a trial run for their goal of hosting future collegiate-level competitions.

“The VEX U tournaments are sparse because universities [that hold tournaments] are significantly more sparse than high schools,” says GRC Treasurer Nathanael Oliver. “Currently, there are only eight competitions in the Southeast that we're able to attend, whereas in high school, you could go to about 10 competitions within the state. With VEX U, you’re lucky if there's one competition in your state.” 

Huffman emphasized that the club's participation is entirely self-led, adapting to students' passion and availability. 

"Our club is adaptable to all skill sets and levels of passion. We've had several people join with no prior experience and have come to love it,” Huffman says. “If someone is passionate about robotics, they can be in our lab five days a week if they want. But they can also come once or twice a week or just weekly meetings, do smaller tasks, and enjoy it just as much.”

As GRC continues to thrive and make significant contributions to STEM education, it stands as an example of what dedication, innovation and community engagement can achieve.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.