On any given day in the spring semester, a group of freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior students meets after school to work on programming, electronics, and design. They’re not working on a group project – they’re building an industrial-sized robot.
These students are part of Archbishop Mitty High School’s Robotics Team 1351, founded in 2003. Each year, students work together to build a robot and compete in regional competitions. The team includes three faculty moderators and multiple parent and alumni volunteers–but the work of designing, building, and programming the robot (and everything from securing sponsors to maintaining the website) is all up to students. During build season, students meet for up to 20 hours per week.
The competitions are organized by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization whose mission is to combine the excitement of sports with the rigor of science. For each competition, students are given a six-week build time, during which they design and build a complex robot to play a specified field game against competitors from other high schools. These challenges give the team plenty of opportunities to call upon their motto, “TKO”: tenacity, knowledge, and opportunity.
For the almost 70 students who make up Team 1351, Archbishop Mitty Robotics is more than just a hobby. It’s also an opportunity to develop valuable skills in engineering, programming, design and to apply skills learned in class to real-world projects. Many students go on to pursue careers in engineering, computers, and STEM fields. Team members also give back to the broader Bay Area community by visiting local elementary schools to get younger students excited about science and engineering.
The program offers students an opportunity to grow as leaders–which makes the team a valuable part of Archbishop Mitty’s Expected School-wide Learning Results, or ESLRs, which aspire to aid graduates in becoming intellectually competent, just, faith-filled, respectful leaders. And the team often gets the whole Archbishop Mitty community involved–at a school-wide rally in 2012, Team 1351’s basketball-shooting robot faced off against alumnus Aaron Gordon ‘13, a current forward for the Orlando Magic.
This year will be an exciting one for Team 1351. Upcoming events include the Sacramento Regional, March 23-26 at UC Davis, and the Silicon Valley Regional, April 6-9 at San Jose State. In January 2017, the team will move from its unofficial workshop in the school’s physics wing to a new dedicated space in the future John A. and Susan Sobrato Science and Student Life Center.