Omaha Gross opens new innovation center with state champion robot

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Over the past two years, Gross Catholic High School in Omaha has been planning and fundraising to help bring its new innovation center to life.

Now the new teamwork center is open and ready for students to use.

The nearly 10,000 square foot open plan space, located on the upper level of the Academic Wing, is intended to provide a collaborative environment for learning and extracurricular activities.

The space will also be used for the high school’s new university academies, which will offer dual enrollment opportunities in health sciences, technology, religion, engineering, etc.

On Friday, August 27, Omaha Gross will hold their official opening ceremony for the new space and feature special guests: the robotics team.

“We had the engineering team that was part of the design, and now the robotics team is part of the dedication,” says Steve Hamersky, professor of science and engineering.

Hamersky, who spent over 40 years at Omaha Gross, led the robotics team for its 11 years of existence. This spring, the team was able to win their first state championship title.

“Over the years we’ve been really close to winning the state championship, but this year it was really good not to end up being second, but to be the first team in the state, so it was really good. ‘was really good,’ he says. “It was a very long season, and it was good to end it that way.”

Now, the team is using their award-winning skills and building a robot to cut the ribbon for the new innovation center, symbolizing the creativity and opportunities the space will provide for current and future students.

“Yes, we were pretty excited about that, we thought it would be a fun thing to do to build a robot that could cut the ribbon and make it interesting and unique to the community, so we’re excited to do it,” Hamersky told 6 News.

Sadly, following the state robotics tournament last April, the world tournament was canceled, so it’s unclear how far the team would have placed themselves on the world stage.

But, coach Hamersky, coach Tom Pelchat, as well as the team, are confident in their abilities. During the 2020-2021 season, all four teams in Gross’s robotics program competed in 14 tournaments, winning 12 and winning a total of 43 trophies.

This year, the program has eight teams, one robot for each team, built and controlled by two to five students in each team.

The program has already participated in a tournament this year, preparing them for the season and the next world competition, which will likely take place in May.

Being invited to cut the ribbon of a new chapter at Gross Catholic is an honor, says the team.

School officials told 6 News that they hope to organize events for alumni and donors to visit the new facilities in the near future.

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