The Gunn Robotics Team (GRT) is a student-managed team that designs, builds and enters a robot in several FIRST Robotics competitions each year. A major part of our team identity is our student ownership. Every aspect of the team that can be executed or managed by a student, is: leadership, organization and planning, gearbox and mechanism design; prototyping and computer simulations; fabrication using milling machines, lathes, CNC, welding and more; coding and animation; fund-raising; outreach. Our students do it all. We CAD our own designs, write our own software, and wire our own robots; we manage our sponsorships, organize and staff outreach events. Being on the Gunn Robotics Team gives every student the opportunity to make real decisions, learn from the results, and produce something amazing in the process.
GRT was founded in 1996 by Bill Dunbar, a mechanical engineer turned physics teacher at Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA. At the time, the Engineering Technology program at Gunn was diminishing, with only one class of eight (all male) students. Fortunately, Bill was able to expand the class by reaching out to several at-risk students, offering to introduce them to engineering. The team took over the campus wood and metal shop, at the time abandoned and slated for demolition, and convinced the school district (after much effort) to provide funding for a new type of class. The Gunn robotics team entered the FIRST Robotics competition in 1997, and that summer traveled to the National Championships in Orlando, Florida.
Since its inception, GRT has grown into a popular program at H.M. Gunn HS, with two full classes meeting throughout the school year, plus regular after-hour and weekend shop sessions. All GRT students learn how to CAD and work in the shop, and develop additional expertise working in small groups focused on skills such as programming, welding, gearbox design, pneumatics, and more. We stay connected with our community, building projects for local schools and community events. We have been fortunate to work with generous sponsors, who assist us with resources and training.
Our Work Space Our shop has expanded from a few tools fit for a science fair project to a small-scale manufacturing facility capable of producing extremely precise parts. Our shop now holds eighteen machines, used on a regular basis.