By: Ethan Mitchell
The expression on Fernando Vargas’s face intensifies as he guides the robot to victory and takes second place on the leaderboard out of thirty teams. This was the scene last year when the Samueli Academy robotics team took home two second place awards for both the Vex Robotics and UCI Rescue Quadcopter.
The Samueli Academy has its own robotics club in the engineering room, which is held after school on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 3:30 to 5:00. Engineering teacher, Mr. Janisch, is the advisor of the robotics team. The club includes two main sections, a Vex Robotics team and a Quadcopter team. The Vex Robotics team focuses on building a robot using parts from the VEX Robotics company. The Quadcopter team focuses on building and writing code for the quadcopter. The intention of the quadcopter is to locate a specific color and autonomously hover over it and take a picture to send back to the controller. Anyone interested is welcome to join the club at anytime, no experience needed!
“The goals of the Robotics club are to give students an opportunity to work on engineering projects and to do above and beyond what they do in the engineering classroom. It also gives students an opportunity to work in teams and to apply the engineering process,” claims Mr. Janisch, adviser of the Robotics Club. The robotics club aims to let students work together and overcome a challenge by collaborating with each other and using their skills to construct a robot. Students always go through the engineering design process when designing and building every robot as they need to build, test, improve, and analyze data.
In every competition, there is always some type of obstacle faced. In the robotics club, the obstacles include the designing of the robot such as creating drawings and schematics, and of course, the other competing teams from various schools because they must be prepared. The team is constantly improving their robots to achieve the best performance possible during their competition because they cannot afford to have a malfunction on the field. Since competing against schools is an obstacle, the team has developed the practice of sending out “scouts” to observe the other robots of opponents. The purpose of this is to take ideas from different robots and sort out which designs work and which don’t. This allows the team to use the most efficient aspects of a robot and apply it to their own to improve for their next battle. “The most valuable part of the competition, in my opinion, is to observe the other teams’ robots so that I can get ideas and think about what can I do to improve my robot,” says Rafael Vasquez, a leader of one of the robotics teams.
The Samueli Academy robotics team has now entered its third year of establishment. The club originated when a group a students requested to the administration for a robotics club. The first team was immediately created when the club began, starting in Vex robotics. We wanted to get the perspective of a student who wasn’t participating in the club. “I think the club contributes to the school by getting students involved and lets them get experience for something that can be a real world problem,” says Harrison van Echten, a student attending Samueli Academy. The robotics club contributes to students’ success because it gives them ideas on how engineers go through a real world problem and shows how important teamwork is.
Schools all across the nation are getting into robotics and entering competitions, but the question is, why? “Robotics are a good platform that represents what engineers do in a number of different fields such as from Automotive to Aerospace. Robotics and autonomously controlled machines are a growing trend,” is Mr. Janisch’s response. The world is advancing in technology and developing more and more automated machines for various tasks. “I think about an easier way to live,” says Nadia Serrano, a student at Samueli Academy. Robotics are, in fact, being used to make many things easier and to possibly reduce the dangers of a task. A robotics club is the perfect place to start to get a preview of the growing trend in technology. “Students in the highschool level don’t realize how important participation in a club like this is when they apply to college. I wish I could emphasize how important having something like this is on your resume,” says Mr. Janisch. Participation in a club like robotics looks great on a resume when applying to a college or even a job. It shows that you were involved and decided to take on a challenge.
As mentioned before, the robotics club welcomes anyone interested in learning about robotics. No experience is needed, just visit the engineering room after school on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:00.
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