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‘Gallup Gearheads’ gearing up for first robotics competition

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The Los Alamos High School robotics team is trying to recruit more members, which is why they held a robotics demonstration on Nov. 18 at Rehoboth Christian School. Andrew Erickson, the mentor for the robotics team, along with his students from Team #4153, came down to show off their robot “Hoops-a-long.”

The robot was designed by the students to play a game wherein it picks up balls and shoots them into a net about eight feet high. The robot has been in several competitions and has placed fourth nationwide. Erickson said a lot of work has gone into designing the robot, and constant calibration is needed to have the robot perform well and adjust to temperature changes. A special drive was made on it to move in any direction and is operated with an Xbox controller.

Erickson hopes the students will be encouraged by the robot’s success to sign up for the Gallup robotics team and compete in 2023.

“A total of eight weeks and 1,000 manhours were needed to complete ‘Hoops-a-long’ to be ready for competition,” Erickson said. “We hope it will do its job for students who want to join the robotics program.”

Future Gallup team members will build a robot between January and March 2023 and travel out of state for competitions.

Rehoboth students got the chance to operate the robot and were amazed at how it performed. The Boys & Girls Club of Gallup brought the opportunity to the high school, according to Marisa Hutchinson, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Gallup.

Hutchinson said she learned of robotic engineering back in 2012 and thought it would be great for Gallup to be a part of the robotic fever. She added that Comcast gave the Boys & Girls club a grant to help build a robot.

“It’s not the future, but what is happening now,” Hutchinson said. “To put Gallup on the map would be great since high schools have been doing this - and why not our community?”

The small group came up with the motto “Fear the Gears” and is known as the Gallup Gearheads Team #4251. Hutchinson hopes to recruit students who are very interested in STEM.

In 2012 the team placed 43rd with their first robot, and Hutchinson said they’re shooting for the number one spot.

“We can be number one, and why not be number one?” Hutchinson said.

As the robot was whisking about the lobby of Rehoboth Christian School, Hutchinson explained that future team members don’t have to have any prior robotic engineering experience, they just have to participate and have fun.

“We’ll all learn as we go. There’ll be a start date and a stop date to make the robot in about eight weeks. Then we’ll go to Fort Worth, Texas to have the robot checked out for qualifications,” Hutchinson said.

Local companies have jumped on board to help the club reach that goal of becoming number one someday. The sponsors include DAB Inc, Pinnacle Bank, Home Depot, Controlled Air & Metal, and the Boys & Girls Club of Gallup. Hutchinson says they are still looking for more help from local companies. Currently, the budget for her group is allowing for eight students.

If any student is interested to be on the Gallup Gearheads team, you can call (505) 488-2378 or text (928) 235-7268; email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; or visit the Boys & Girls Club at 416 W. Princeton Ave.

By Dee Velasco
For the Sun