Shaker High School provides us not only with education but with opportunities. Among our school’s strengths is the sheer number and the depth of extracurricular opportunities available to us students. One such club is our school’s very own robotics team, Team 2791, Shaker Robotics.
Shaker Robotics is, like most clubs, open to anyone and everyone. There aren’t any classes you need to be taking, or prerequisites you need to fulfill, and you can be in any grade. Every year, the official robotics team consists of about 30-40 members, with a pretty even distribution across the grades.
So what does this robotics club do? Simply put, we build robots! Shaker Robotics competes in the First Robotics Competition (FRC), an international competition that has built a community of thousands of teams from thousands of schools – and it’s still growing! STEM fields have become integral to our society, and the FRC focuses on nurturing in students the skills, both academically and socially, needed to thrive in these fields.
The FRC is an annual competition; each year, on the first Saturday of the year, a challenge is given to every robotics team in the world at the same time. The challenge is different each year, and the functions that each robot is equipped with in order to handle that challenge is completely up to each individual team. For example, last year the challenge was called First Stronghold, and robots had to be able to traverse multiple different obstacles and shoot dodgeballs into goals to score points. Each robot was better at a certain task (like getting through a certain obstacle or shooting) than the next, and every robot was unique. Finally, every team has no more than six weeks to build their robot. That means that the design, prototyping, manufacturing, wiring, and coding processes to develop a complete robot has to be done in six weeks.
If that doesn’t sound like a lot of work to you… well, it is. Of course, there are mentors to guide students along the way, including the teachers in the technology department of the school: Mr. Ashline, Mr. Bottini, and Mr. Scism, as well as RPI students, many of whom are alumni of their own high school robotics team. Not to mention, the parents of some of the members make time in their day to help out with the production process, and even to cheer the team on at competitions. Even so, Robotics is a very demanding program. In fact, our school’s team has a policy; in order for a student to be a part of the team at the regional competitions at the end of the season, he or she must contribute at least 40 hours of time during the build season.
As much as Robotics is demanding, though, it is an exciting and rewarding experience. Not only are the competitions a sight to behold, but to watch and contribute to the development of an entire robot is a unique experience in and of itself. Furthermore, our team is not only fun to be a part of, but you may also find success in the process; our team consistently receives awards at the regional competitions we compete at.
If technology piques your interest, if you love being part of a team, if you like building things, or even if you’re just curious, Shaker Robotics is a great club to give a try. The first meeting is usually in October, and for a couple months you will be able to give the club a test drive, and figure out whether you want to commit, pay your dues, and join the official team. Until then, swing by C-Hall after school Mondays through Wednesdays if you want a peek into what we do, or you could even head just down the street to RPI on March 18th to cheer the team on at the Tech Valley Regional Competition.