First Impressions: Rookies of Robotics


Daniel Lin

Co-reported with Justin Kim

Robotics club members freshmen Gahan Lahiri, Andy Ding and sophomore Neelie Shah have one thing in common: they entered the world of robotics just a few months ago. Nevertheless, they have differing opinions on the club and reasons for joining as well. Here is a brief look at these rookies’ first impressions of the club.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Gahan Lahiri is a freshman who came into robotics with little prior experience. He joined robotics because it sounded like an intriguing team to be a part of. Since the beginning of the year, Lahiri has learned a tremendous amount about about robotics: how to use the tools in the shop and the process of building a robot, undoubtedly a difficult endeavour, from start to finish.

Because taking on such a project is no easy task, Lahiri, along with countless others, attend trainings which take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. Here, students learn the ins and outs of being on the team from shop safety to design process.

Photo by Daniel Lin
Photo by Daniel Lin

Recently, the team has been brainstorming new designs for their robot which is set to compete during mid-March.

Lahiri believes the most distinguishing factor between robotics and other clubs is the extensiveness of it, as well as the great deal of involvement required as a member.

“All of the other clubs are focused on one activity and robotics has to be split into dozens of divisions just to get one robot together,” Lahiri said.

Lahiri does, however, note some flaws of the club, most notably how time-consuming it is. He also points out how leadership can be a bit lackluster at times, because of how lessons aren’t always planned out in advance.

“In the last couple of meetings,” Lahiri said, “there’s kind of been some confusion about who’s in charge and what we’re actually supposed to be doing.”

Nevertheless, Lahiri enjoys Robotics greatly, and anticipates further involvement in the club for years to come.

“It was one of the clubs that just sounded interesting,” Lahiri said, “and it has been.”

Constructing Companionships

Sophomore Neelie Shah joined MV Robotics with no prior knowledge of robotics because she found the concept of robotics to be fascinating and the construction element to be unique among MVHS clubs.  Of course, she had some outside influence as well in the decision.

“Some of my friends are in the club,” Shah said. “So it’s fun coming after school and hanging out with them while building things.”

Photo by Daniel Lin
Photo by Daniel Lin

”Part of the appeal of robotics, for her, is the actual construction of something tangible. She personally finds that the mechanical side of robotics is more appealing than the engineering aspect, though she concedes that both are important for creating a robot. As the first few months are dedicated to the training process in preparation for next year’s build season, Shah has been focusing on learning the different types of equipment and techniques, like the power tools and how to cut materials  with the bandsaw.

She keeps a more cheerful view of the club, preferring to think about the club’s merits instead of its drawbacks. She doesn’t see any major problems with communication or training and finds the club’s time commitment to be reasonable. The three to four hours each week do not phase her at all; instead, she’d be glad to continue in coming years.

Eye for an Eye

Photo by Daniel Lin

Andy Ding, a freshman on the robotics team, had done some tinkering and programming on his own time before he joined robotics. Robotics was an opportunity for Ding to get involved in his passions in a setting of like-minded individuals. What makes the robotics experience truly unique to Ding is the team aspect, where students can get involved in what they love while having fun.

While Ding attests to how much commitment it takes to be on the team,  the intensive training sessions have provided Ding with valuable skills such as the use of power tools and computer aided design.

Like others, Ding finds the club to be rewarding in terms of what skills it provides, in exchange for its many hours of time commitment. Ding also looks forward to continuing to be a part of robotics next year.