(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Gannon University’s robotics club recently received a modest influx of funding that allows them to take part in competitions and even to introduce a new combat robotics team at the university.

The club’s actual name is Gannon University’s Robotics and Development club. It received a $10,000 grant from the Norwalk Havoc Robot Leagues. Dan Rutkowski is the club’s treasurer and is credited with securing the grant.

“I was watching a combat robotics video online and I wanted to learn more about the organization. I went to their website and they had a grant available for robotics programs, so we applied for it,” Rutkowski said.

He is an Erie native. As a child, he attended robotics-themed summer camps in Edinboro. Now he’s a third-year student majoring in industrial and robotics engineering and hopes to graduate in 2024.

“Robotics combines many of the engineering disciplines into one. It’s not just electrical or mechanical or programming — it’s merging them all into one,” Rutkowski said. He agreed robotics are “cool” and added, “they’re driving the modern industry in manufacturing.”

Rutkowski said he believes automation is the future of robotics.

“Things that typically had to be done manually and may be not very appealing to do by hand could be automated,” he said.

The club has a varying level of participation — between 20 and 40 people at any given time take part in the club’s events. With the $10,000 grant, the club’s Intelligent Ground Vehicle team is now scheduled to attend a competition in June. Some of the funding also is earmarked to create a combat robotics team. That is, robots that are created to fight other robots created by other combat robotics teams. Planning for that new team already is underway.

“The remaining funds will be used for a student project fund so we can enable students who come through our space to do their projects if they don’t have the funding available to do them,” Rutkowski said.

Gannon University’s Robotics and Development club uses the makerspace at Gannon University.