Gannon University has unveiled a number of new opportunities this school year, including the new I-HACK building, vegan and vegetarian opportunities in the cafeteria and more recently, the new mobile STEM lab.
On Oct. 7, Gannon unveiled the GUBotDev Mobile STEM lab.
The ceremony took place outside the Zurn Science Center and Center for Advanced Engineering.
Over 50 people attended, including the Rev. Lawrence Persico, bishop of Erie, Mayor Joe Schember, and County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper.
Persico said a prayer and blessed the RV inside and out.
Mark Blair, an assistant professor in the computer & information science department, founded the GUBotDev program in 2014. Blair bought a robot and put it in front of his students; this gesture soon led to GUBotDev.
After several years of doing STEM outreach by loading equipment into cars, GUBotDev had the idea of creating its own mobile laboratory.
Blair said he feels driven and guided by student members.
The RV was made to travel around and make people more aware of the STEM fields.
Nick Devine, GUBotDev chief operating officer and lab manager for Gannon’s biomedical and industrial systems engineering department, took to the platform to thank sponsors John Persinger, who donated the RV; Ridg-U-Rak, for a large financial contribution; American Hakko Products; Keysight Technologies; Industrial Sales and Manufacturing; and many others for their contributions and the administration for approving their crazy project.
Back in January, Devine talked to Persinger to see if he would donate the RV so the GUBotDev team could retrofit it into a mobile lab with all the necessary equipment.
Everything on the outside of the RV on the vinyl wrap is from previous projects, and all of the materials inside were either built by GUBotDev or donated from sponsors.
Equipment includes multiple 3D printers, electronic workbenches and a hydraulic leveling system. The mobile lab will be completely self-contained, allowing the setup and teaching of classes to go very quickly.
The RV is currently being used as a focal point for a YouTube series where GUBotDev students document the entire renovation process.
It will also have the space and camera equipment on the road, which means students can make videos as they travel to different events.
“We have a very skilled team to be able to pull this off in such a short timeframe with such a tight budget,” Devine said.
“In typical GUBotDev fashion, we loaded everything in yesterday at 8 p.m.”
President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., mentioned that it has been a long road and the university is excited for the next generation to see some cool technology.
“This is a group of powerful young people who’ve done amazing things,” Taylor said.
“These are not just great engineers, not just great students who can do incredible things, they’re great individuals.”
Before the ceremony ended, Dr. Karinna Vernaza, dean of the College of Engineering and Business, christened the front of the RV with a champagne bottle.
“GUBotDev members go to sleep with two thoughts,” Blair said. “It’d be a lot easier to quit and they could get to sleep sooner.”
This story has been updated as of Oct. 22, 2019.