The robotics club at Harrisburg High School provides a learning opportunity for students who are interested in engineering; however, if students want to join this year, they might be out of luck. The JV team in the VEX IQ league group spots “were all full by May this year,” says Christopher Stewart, the robotics team coach. “We have actually had to turn kids away this season because we had more interest than the space allowed.” The Varsity VEX VRC program is much more exclusive as they “have students recommended by their middle school coaches,” or they select people from engineering courses. The varsity program also has team captains, which are given a lot of leadership opportunities by selecting people to fill certain roles in the team. These are some of the general attributes they look for: communication, sportsmanship, being a team player, tenacity, and coachability.
Some of the goals the team has this year is to get a tournament trailer, which they got this year to rent to other people so that “more events would spring up, spurring on more teams to spring up.” This has already “helped to start a new event that has not been offered before,” according to Stewart. His goal, he says, is not to win; however, winning later in the season is preferred because they have learned from previous mistakes. Stewart explains, “I want my teams to constantly learn from competitions and improve on their design.” He expects the program to continue as leaders in robotics for the state and region as they improve and grow.
Some of the challenges the club faces are space and sponsors as the limited space makes practicing difficult. According to Stewart, “With the pandemic it has been harder the last few years to get sponsors on board.” Jackson Zavesky, the team captain of the Varsity Robotics team, says that one of the largest challenges is “making the robot work exactly how we want it to.” This may sound unappealing to some people, but Zavesky shares that his favorite is “when something works after working on it for some time.” Overall, the Robotics club at HHS is great for anybody interested in challenging themselves through robots and engineering.