Robotics members reflect on their season and look toward the future

With the robotics season being over, the members are grateful for their experiences and discuss the future of the team

Lead+robotics+mentor+Gary+Hannah+explain+the+team%27s+robot+to+De+Soto+freshman+Moses+Morton.+Thursday%2C+Nov.+19

By Avery Gathright

Lead robotics mentor Gary Hannah explain the team’s robot to De Soto freshman Moses Morton. Thursday, Nov. 19

Avery Gathright, JagWire reporter/photographer

After a unique season with new events and experiences, the robotics team reflects on their favorite memories and looks forward to being able to recruit new members and use an expanded workspace.

Consisting of members from both Mill Valley and De Soto, the team will be moving from Mill Valley into the Cedar Trails Exploration Center (CTEC), which opens next school year. The center will provide the team with more equipment, space, and materials to use during practices.

Sophomore Isaac Steiner, who was voted by the team to be a co-president for robotics during the 2021-2022 school year, has many plans for the next season and hopes that CTEC will boost the team roster.

“I really want to focus on recruiting and fundraising because the team’s numbers are dwindling due to us not being able to recruit during COVID-19,” Steiner said. “I hope that some publicity events and the new CTEC building will help raise membership, and for fundraising, I want to build on the current infrastructure and build newer methods hopefully involving pre-existing schools events.”

One event the team participated in this year was the Innovation Challenge, where teams were required to create a product to promote physical fitness and pitch it to the judges. Senior Courtney Mahugu, who has been co-president of the team for the past two years, feels as though the challenge gave her a chance to apply herself and lead more in robotics.

“Being co-president has always been hard for me because I’ve never been a genius in any of the sub-teams, I’m a programmer but I’m nowhere close to the best one on the team,” Mahugu said. “But innovation was my chance to use my talents, my skills. It was probably the first time I felt useful on the team, I was finally one of those people who couldn’t miss a day or nothing would get done and I’ve never been that before.”

Mahugu finds that the excitement and ways the team works together make robotics enjoyable for her.

“Everyone on the team is chaotic in their own ways and when we all come together to build a robot, there’s lots of good chaos,” Mahugu said. “Part of that chaos is due to having no blueprint, the ability to go crazy with robot designs. I love whenever we get the robot to shoot something really high and even when a part of the robot just snaps. One time the T-shirt cannon just exploded, it was awesome and one of the funniest moments on my robotics career.”

Junior Ryan Layton, who was voted to be co-president next school year alongside Steiner, also enjoys the dynamic of the team, alongside the skills he has gained from robotics.

“I think the best thing is the teamwork and the skills you acquire,” Layton said. “Every day in the robotics room you learn something new about how the robot works and how it’s built which is amazing.”

Although Steiner found the past season of robotics enjoyable, he noticed the differences brought on by COVID-19, and looks forward to next season being more typical.

“The most difficult thing was almost definitely figuring out the new competition format and how to organize during COVID,” Steiner said. “Meeting wasn’t an option for a while but we still needed to get things done, I’m glad we figured it out before the competitions started ramping up. I’m most looking forward to being back for a more normal season because the team had a great time last year and while this year was fun I don’t think a lot of the kids got the same experience from doing digital competitions.”

In the future, Mahugu hopes the team will be more embraced by the students of the school.

“I hope the robotics team becomes more mainstream at Mill Valley,” Mahugu said. “I want to hear robotics being talked about by everyone, even those not remotely interested in STEM, the way everyone talks about football or track. I also hope the robotics team does more outreach both physically and on social media. I just want to see Jaguar Robotics out there.”

Layton believes that being a member of the team has positively impacted him and will even help him find a job.

“Robotics has completely changed my high school career,” Layton said. “Over the last few years I have learned many skills that I can take with me into a STEM career of my choosing.”

Similarly, Mahugu has found that being on the team has had many benefits and helped her become more self-assured.

“Being on Jaguar Robotics has taught me more about myself and what I am capable of,” Mahugu said. “Jaguar Robotics has given me the confidence I need to chase my dreams and shown me what it’s like to have a passion. It has also given me friends, joy, and memories that will last a lifetime.”

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