Robotics runs away with top spot

Tress Dorfler, Assistant News & Opinion Editor

A distinct smell of burning metal fills the room as sophomore August Holsman works at the belt sander to touch up a piece of metal. A high-pitched sound can be heard echoing off the walls of the A-wing basement classroom where the Robotic team meets. Finishing touches to the metal robot were being made as the Von Steuben Tournament approached in November.

Last year, the Robotics club won many awards, including taking a finalist spot at the Northeastern Illinois University tournament on Jan. 12.

This year, the robotics team is on its way to a similar level of success.

At the Von Steuben Tournament in Chicago, for example, Robotics club had one team earn tournament champion status with an undefeated record through “perseverance and competing well,” sophomore Matthew Chen said.

The club brought back the Judges Award and claimed the title of tournament champions at the Rich East High School Tournament in November, too.

The members of the club win their awards at competitions because they’re all “pumped up and ready to win,” junior Edrei Alaban said.

During the building portion of the season when members meet to put together the robots, motivation within the club can be low from all the troubleshooting required to make the product, but once the tournament day arrives, members “were all hype,” said Chen.

Being in Robotics club requires a lot of collaboration among teammates in order to make a fully functioning robot. The challenge can teach “problem solving and learning to make improvements” in the middle of a project said Alaban.

The atmosphere of the workroom feels bubbly as there was an equal balance of joking around with friends and getting work done. Members get to work together with everyone on the team, which offers the opportunity to socialize with new people.

“My favorite part is getting to work with a bunch of new people,” freshman Sharron Kagan said.

Members of the team also have had the chance to work with an MHS alum. MHS graduate Larry Markus donated $2,000 to the robotics program and then offered the club members assistance by providing expertise for projects in progress.

“Mr. Markus mentioned that our students are very passionate and driven about what they are doing here, and I totally agree with that sentiment,” said Club Adviser Emmanuel Aldana in a District 120 press release on Sept. 24.

The club has put the money toward upgrading the workroom in order for it to be more organized. The club also bought new parts for its robots.

Robotics club has created a welcoming atmosphere for a diverse range of students to collaborate on a single entity. Because of working together during practices and waking up at early hours on weekends for competitions, Kagan said, “Being a part of robotics is really like being part of a big family.”