Robotics Kicks Off its New Season with an Explosion of New Members

Denise Bui, Web Editor

The Vandegrift Robotics Team has kicked off its season by preparing for several competitions to qualify for the First Tech Challenge. The theme this year is “Ring it Up!”. Competing teams are beginning to build and strategize for this year’s game consisting of picking up rings and earning points.

Vandegrift, in its second year season, competed as the Viperbots last year with 13 members and finished 18th at the FTC World Championships in 2011-2012. Because of this past success, the team of 13 has exploded to 5 teams of 71 total members. Part of this year’s goal is to introduce more females to robotics and Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) education; therefore, two of the five teams are female-focused teams.

“It looked like the people last year had a lot of fun and I was inspired to join after their success and I want to contribute to that,” senior programmer Paige Mason said.

The five teams are: 4545 Viperbots (veterans and seniors), 4546 SnakeByte, 6209 Venom, 6210 Venombots and 6299 QuadX.

New and old members alike are working hard to match and perhaps increase last year’s success with much enthusiasm.

“I am working on CAD, which is basically predesigning the robot while teaching the younger kids in the club,” senior Nathan Munoz said.

How the robotics club gained so many members in such a short period of time is uncertain. It may be due to past success, recruitment by the computer science and engineering teachers, or maybe students are just becoming more aware of the program.

“In class, Mr. Allen kept telling us about robotics,” senior Eric Riewski said. “He convinced me.”

With such an increase in team members and number of teams, positive reactions are received with anticipation of the new season.

“I’m feeling pretty impressed,” senior team manager, Hannah von Oldenburg said. “With the amount of resources and mentors, the teams have come up with really impressive ideas.”