Student-built, student-run: A glimpse of the robotics team


Brinda Iyer

Students in the engineering subteam eagerly learn about the process of building a physical robot at a meeting on Sept. 12.

Brinda Iyer, Copy Editor

Year after year, as students graduate and move on, the robotics team turns to experienced members to step up: teaching new members, managing the various subteams and calling the shots. The upcoming season looks no different, with 14 new student heads and seniors Taylor Woo and Kristen Tran leading as co-captains.

“You start to see students naturally taking on more roles, responsibilities and becoming leaders on the team,” robotics coach Christina Wade said. “They take a lot of ownership for their team. So it’s really nice to see.”

The robotics team is divided into three main subteams: business, engineering and programming.

The business group deals primarily with money management, community outreach, fundraising and volunteering. They also reach out to companies, post on the team’s Instagram and supply the engineers and programmers with the equipment they need.

“We write a lot of grants and get a lot of sponsorships,” said Woo, who also manages the business team. “We also go into the community to show off our robot to kids. They can drive the robot and interact with it. We just really try to inspire STEM into the community.”

The engineering team is in charge of designing the robot. They work in the lab, experimenting with physical parts.

The programming team codes the robot. They enable the physical robot, constructed by the engineering team, to perform various functions. However, they test their programs using a practice bot.

Above all, teamwork is crucial in the field of robotics. The team cannot function without constant collaboration and coordination between its subteams and members. 

“People are always going to ask you questions,” sophomore Matheos Zarou said. “You have to be ready to answer them or go on the spot to do something even if you weren’t assigned that task.”

Everyone on the team is important in their own way. All members — from freshmen to seniors — have a role to play, regardless of experience.

“We always try our best to make sure that everybody’s involved,” senior and co-captain Kristen Tran said. “If they’re a bit on the quieter side, we try to ask them if there’s anything that they’re interested in working on, making sure that they have stuff to do during meetings and that they’re engaged.”

The newer members of the robotics team are active, too. Some student leads are tasked with helping the new students learn the basic skills needed to be on the team.

“They’ve been helping us by telling us what their mistakes were before,” freshman Lucas Yeung said. “They’re telling us how to learn from their mistakes so we can improve and create better robots.”

All the members of the team share a special excitement for one specific time of year: competition season. The newer students are preparing for a fall season, while the advanced members have a season in the spring.

At the end of the day, the team relies on and thrives off of a strong sense of community. Bonded by experience, the connections made between the team members are long-lasting and invaluable.

“It’s like a family,” sophomore Lexie Levitt said. “We do trips together. We stay until 9 o’clock together. We fix the robots, for 10 hours in pain when they don’t work, together. So that’s really what it is.”