Spotlight: Huskie Robotics

Grace Ainger, Editorials Editor

The 154 clubs, sports and activities available to students at Naperville North create special communities for those involved. Due to all of these options, it can be difficult for students to find the right environment. Not all clubs and sports at NNHS are well-known among the NNHS community. However, some might just be a second home for many students. First up in the spotlight is NNHS Robotics.  

Huskie Robotics is a student-led STEM based team that builds a robot, completely from scratch, every year. They attend competitions against other high schools and program the robot to do a wide variety of skills such as climbing and picking up and throwing objects, to name a few. The team, which includes over 100 members, collaborates in sub-teams, each tasked with different aspects of the robotic process. The tasks include programming, mechanics, part-building and computer design elements. Sophomore Lara Kotak explained why she believes robotics creates spaces for all involved.

“I think robotics has something for everybody. Like, if you’re not interested in more of the technical side of robotics, you can do the business side, which is partially what I do. It’s a great way to meet so many people…and we are all really close with each other,” Kotak said.

The sub-teams allow students to learn different kinds of STEM skills such as building the robot and computer programming. Building entails cutting metals and wood paneling while programming and coding makes the robot actually carry out its various tasks. Along with STEM skills, robotics also allows students to practice life skills including leadership, team building and constant problem solving. One of the team captains, senior Sean Denker, explained what skills he believes are most important and will take with him post high school.

“The intangible skills, not just the engineering skills,” Denker said. “The leadership and problem solving skills that I got from Robotics are what I’m going to carry over into the careers I’m going to end up in.”

During their build season, Robotics meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m.-9 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m.-4 p.m. These nearly 26-hour weeks mean the team spends a large amount of time working together. While this schedule creates time management struggles for some, it allows for strong student connection and comradery to form. Students have the opportunity to grow relationships with one another regardless of grade while sharing a common interest and task. Not only do student to student relationships grow, but the sponsors have the space to connect with their students in the club. Head coach and mentor Geoffery Schmit discussed the difference in relationship growth from a student in the school day vs Robotics.

“I might have the same student in my classes for two years if I get lucky. But in Robotics I get most of them for four years, so I develop much stronger relationships… it’s a whole different dynamic and we just develop a much stronger relationship as a result,” Schmit said.

For many students, Robotics directly correlates to their future career path in the STEM field. Students work with mentors and professionals in the industry to learn more about potential paths relating to robotics for after high school. The process of making the robot also creates real world situations of problem-solving. If a certain program or code sequence doesn’t move the robot as intended, the group discusses it and makes a game plan of how best to fix it. Senior and Systems Integration Specialist, Safiya Bhanpuri, talked about how Robotics helped her uncover what she wanted to do in the future.

“Robotics has impacted me in such a positive way because it’s given me a view into the path that I want to take in my career. I always knew I wanted to go into STEM but I wasn’t really sure about the different opportunities and careers,” Bhanpuri said. “Through doing Robotics, [I] have gained so many technical skills. I’ve also been able to network with our mentors who are actual engineers, and it’s provided me more confidence in what I want to do in the future.” 

Robotics provides a welcoming, collaborative learning environment for all of those interested in discovering the different aspects of the STEM field. If you’re interested in learning more about Robotics or any other club, activity or sport at North, visit the Naperville North homepage. 

 “Robotics has mostly helped me with my confidence and to be more comfortable speaking to other people… It’s also helped me become a better person overall because I’ve learned a wide variety of skills that I think will help me in the future,” Kotak said.