Club of the Month: Robotics
From The Blue Jay, Vol. 87, No. 5
By Ethan Gilberti, Staff Writer
Jesuit High School has brought forth many noteworthy clubs and teams that have competed in Jesuit’s name and brought it much glory and praise. Among those organizations is the Robotics Club, which embraces the ever advancing art of technology (while hoping its creations don’t one day become self-aware and terminate us all).
The club operates under a tight structure, befitting its roots in science, technology and engineering. For its meetings, the club breaks into a pair of main teams – Team Blue, led by senior Michael Blanje, and Team White, headed up by sophomore Julian Mahfouz. The club is moderated by physics teacher Kyle White, former teacher Eric Leefe, ’03, and Mel Triay, ’03.
Within each team are students who specialize in certain area of expertise.
There are “Builders” who act as mechanics and work on the physical aspects and attributes of the robots, “Programmers” who design and write the coding for the robots using “Robot C” (a variant of C++ programming) in order to make them functional, and lastly “Drivers” who use their impeccable maneuvering abilities and fast reflexes to control the robots during competitions in order to complete certain tasks during games.
Throughout the year the goal of the club is to ready their robots for various competitions against other teams in order to proceed to super-regionals. During the competitions, two members (usually a driver to maneuver the robot and a programmer to help fix any software errors) use the droid to complete certain tasks in a given game. The game is the same throughout the year and chosen during September so as to give the teams time to prepare.
These games usually consist of various complex, physical exercises made to test the robot’s speed, strength, and precision in handling. Last year the club had to create a robot that could place square blocks in a basket as fast as possible, complete a full pull-up, and raise a flag on a pole. Operating a robot that could easily achieve these tasks, the Blue Jay team was able to compete in the ultimate super-regionals.
This year, both Team Blue and Team White have advanced to the Southeast Texas Regional Championship, which will be held on Feb. 21 at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas.
During the tournaments the teams had to knock over baskets of balls and place them in 30-inch, 60-inch and 90-inch tubes faster than their competitors. In addition to winning several qualifying matches this year, the Robotics Team was also able to win a pair of 3-D printers for the school in order to further advance their technological success.
Being that Jesuit is the school of the intellectually competent, the Robotics Club easily fits the school’s profile of a graduate at graduation. The club introduces the students to the competitive world of engineering and prepares them for future careers such as mechanical engineering and computer programming. The students also get to raise their creativity skills to a whole new level.
“The best thing about the Robotics Club is starting with nothing more than an idea and being able to materialize that idea” said junior Andrew Vuong, an active member in Team White.
Along with teaching students about engineering, the club also helps them learn the values of teamwork and organization and helps the students mature into men. This teamwork and success further spreads the good reputation of Jesuit High School.
For those who are passionate about engineering and technology and willing to dedicate their time and energy to the team, the Robotics Club is definitely worth exploring.