Club spotlight: WJ Robotics Club


Photo courtesy of Kevin Canha

WJ students practice building robots at one of the club’s meetings. The Robotics Club meets every week to prepare for the BotBall Robotics Competition and teach participants about programming and engineering.

The WJ Robotics Club is a competitive group of students who meet three to five days a week to learn about applied software and mechanical engineering. They work together to practice building and programming robots.

“I joined when I got here four years ago,” club president, senior Jason Harriot said. “I’ve learned a lot. Working with a team was something to get used to, but it’s a lot of fun.”

At the end of the year, the Robotics Club goes to the BotBall Robotics Competition, where they compete against other youth teams to build robots and then run them to see who will get the highest score.

“We make sure our robots work on the game board before the competition starts,” sophomore member Kevin Canha, who also joined the club last year said. “Last year, the first time we went, one of our robots tried to throw another robot off the table. The second time we got a very high score, but on our third try we failed again,”

During the competition, all the teams assemble a game board which was sent out to them prior to the competition. They then assemble robots using mini-computers and plug-in motors, and write programs through wireless or USB connections to make the robots move.

“It sends different signals to the ports that then go to the motors which turn and steer,” sophomore Derrick Priester said.

Priester joined the club during his freshman year. He enjoys the positive atmosphere and healthy environment in the club, and says that it was very easy to make new friends.

As a member of the Robotics Club, Priester advises students to get a background in technology before joining the club by taking a tech-ed class, even during their first year of the club.

“Not having any experience by the time we go to competition isn’t frustrating,” Priester said. “But, you won’t get nearly as much out of it if you don’t know the basics of building a robot or programming.”