Buffalo Wings and Bambusa construct extendable robotic arm

Senior John Zavidniak, junior Ray Inoue and sophomore Sam Pines touch up Team Buffalo Wings' robot, Tesla, in preparation for FTC. Robotics Club meets every Monday and Friday from 2:30-4:30.

Alice Pecoraro

Senior John Zavidniak, junior Ray Inoue and sophomore Sam Pines touch up Team Buffalo Wings’ robot, Tesla, in preparation for FTC. Robotics Club meets every Monday and Friday from 2:30-4:30.

Julie Ambo, News Editor

Robotics Club not only offers students a hands-on experience in robotics, but on a broader scale, opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

On Friday Dec. 7, Robotics Club divided into varsity (Team Buffalo Wings) and junior varsity (Team Bambusa) teams, to compete in the First Tech Challenge (FTC) with an organization called First Robotics.  Occurring at Escondido Charter High School, teams of up to 10 students will bring the robots they designed, built and programmed, and will compete them against other teams’ robots.

“There’s the actual competition where you test how well the robot can function and complete a set of tasks.  You’re also judged on an engineering notebook, which [is based on] how well you’re able to record and take notes on your ideas as you progress through the season,” senior Andrew Allan said.  “The third and final thing you’re judged on is community outreach, which is how deeply you’re involved with the community in inspiring students to join programs like the ones we participate in.”

Following a ‘break and build’ procedure, in which the teams refine mechanisms until the engineered product fully functions, the process of preparing for the competition spans just over three months.  This year, the teams have focused on constructing a robotic arm that can extend up to 44 inches in order to drop rings over pegs.

“This year, the task is for the robot to be able to go and grab plastic rings and put them on these pegs in the middle of the playing field, but there are three separate heights of pegs,” Allan said.  “The highest [peg] is 44 inches high, but when all of the robots’ mechanisms are contracted, the maximum size it can be is 18 inches [for length, width and height].”

However, Robotics Club does not discriminate against students uninterested in robots.

“If students are interested in stuff other than the robot, there are opportunities for that.  You’re really able to explore all your interests, whether it’s business or engineering or community outreach,” Allan said.  “ We’ve covered each of the categories fairly equally, and I think the fact that our team structure allows certain people to focus on certain things makes sure that we’re fairly well prepared [for FTC].”

As the only girl in the club, sophomore Tyra Wu, outreach coordinator, encourages other girls to join, too.  Participating in the club has deepened her knowledge in not only robotics, but in math, science, marketing and business, too.

“It’s kind of fun to have a different perspective, because boys think differently.  From a real life work experience, it’s definitely showed me that marketing and business is a really big part of everyday life,” Wu said.

Allan welcomes new members, whether girls or boys, with open arms.  If interested, Robotics Club takes place in room 7104 from 2:30-4:30 Mon. -Fri.

“There’s the whole club which anyone can join, and we have parts in the classroom for people to come and mess around with.  As of right now, only one of the teams is full, so we still have open spots,” Allan said.  “Even if you’re not on a team, you’re always interacting with the teams, and you can always come in and see what they’re doing and help out a bit.  You can come in knowing nothing about robotics, and if it just sparks the slightest interest, then you’re welcome to come in and check it out.”