RoboJackets: Two Decades of Fostering Leadership in Robotics

RoboJackets: Two Decades of Fostering Leadership in Robotics

RoboJackets Founder Brad Geving meets with current members during the RoboJackets 20th-anniversary celebration held March 30.

Just before the start of this month’s 10th Annual National Robotics Week festivities, Georgia Tech’s RoboJackets had a little celebration of their own.

The competitive robotics group ­– whose membership includes students, faculty, and alumni – celebrated their 20th anniversary in March.

To commemorate the milestone, RoboJackets hosted a showcase event on March 30. Combat robotics, autonomous RC car racing, and Lego Sumo competitions were highlights of the free event held at the Georgia Tech Student Center.   

During a brief Q&A session, third-year computer science major and RoboJackets Communications Director Kyla Qi shared more details about the event and the group’s history.

GT Computing: Congratulations on RoboJackets’ 20th anniversary. Is there a specific date that is recognized?

Kyla Qi: Thank you! There isn’t an exact day, but RoboJackets was formed to compete in the 1999 Battlebot competition and was officially chartered shortly after the event.

So, how did the group celebrate?

On March 30th, we hosted some competitions and showcases of our robots in and around the Student Center. To celebrate our Battlebot roots, we included a combat competition. It featured robots weighing up to three pounds in a double elimination combat tournament and was definitely a highlight of the day. The autonomous remote control scale RC car race in the Student Center ballroom and a LEGO Sumo competition were also lots of fun!

[RELATED: Download Georgia Tech's 2019 Robot All-Star Trading Cards]

What is the current membership total?

RoboJackets started with around 3 students. The group has steadily grown over the years and now has 255 dues-paying members this year.

How was the turnout for the anniversary event? Did any club alums or VIPs attend the celebration?

The event was really successful! I’d say more than 100 people attended throughout the day. The only real VIP attending was RoboJackets Founder Brad Geving. He was a judge for some of the competitions. There were also lots of other group alumni participating as judges and attending as spectators.

[FLASHBACK: Bringing Mean Machines to Life – page 11, Technique, Aug. 2000]

What would you say is the group’s purpose?

The RoboJackets mission is to Promote, Educate, Advance, in relation to the field of robotics. Our goal is to empower our members and teach them the skills to design, manufacture, power, and program robots. As important, we want to help develop their leadership skills and help generate interest in robotics at Georgia Tech and in the Atlanta area. We believe in learning by doing and our capacity to provide members and the community with hands-on opportunities has increased substantially as the group increased in space, resources, membership, and organizational complexity.

What are some of the club’s biggest accomplishments?

Some of our recent tangible victories include:

However, I’d have to say that our biggest accomplishment has been continuously growing, improving, and fostering a culture of learning, community, and leadership in robotics.

How has the club evolved over the years?

RoboJackets has grown immensely in the last 20 years. We started out as a group of students that wanted to build a combat robot for a single event. But as our needs and mission grew we realized the group had to evolve to keep pace.

As an example, shortly after the group was launched, we began mentoring a local FIRST Robotics Competition high school team. We realized at that point that the group would benefit by having an outreach team. So, we have developed additional teams over the years as our members discovered new projects and opportunities for advancement in robotics. Along with Outreach, we currently have teams dedicated to RoboRacing, IGVC, RoboCup, and BattleBots.

<p>RoboJackets Founder Brad Geving meets with current members during the RoboJackets 20th-anniversary celebration held March 30.</p>
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