Trobotix: Inspiration, Motivation, and Creation

   West High is full of diverse clubs and organizations, some of the popular ones being Speech and Debate and Theater, but in the pile lies a creative and mostly unknown organization. West High’s Robotics Team, going by the name of Trobotix, has racked up plenty of awards and titles. It’s also a family of STEM-inspired students who wish to further their understanding of engineering and programming. 

  West High established the Trobotix 8696 team in 2014. With its name derived from a mash-up of ‘trojan’ and ‘robotics’, it provides a space for students to work together using their knowledge of science and technology while simultaneously building life-long problem-solving skills. Trobotix participates in competitions through FIRST, an acronym that represents “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” FIRST is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen that strives to give younger generations access to STEM education and activities. Every year, West High Trobotix competes in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), a robotics competition for grades 7-12 that includes teams from all over the world. The team has competed in six seasons of FIRST Tech Challenge, and brought home five awards. Throughout their off-season, Trobotix diligently works to design, build, and program their robot to fit the different game requirements implemented each year. However, the team’s efforts are not just geared towards a robot. Team members also work together to fundraise and promote the club. 

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It’s almost like a small business that you’re running every year in a different way.”

— Mishka Mohamed Nour '22

   Trobotix is made up of builders, programmers, and strategists with aspects of business, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), electronics configuration, and documentation. During the competition season, they meet on Mondays from 5:30 – 6:00 pm via Discord, Thursdays from 3:00 – 6:00 pm for open lab, and two additional hours on Fridays (4:00 – 6:00 pm) for those who need extra lab time. The club’s main focus is to provide a space for students who are interested in developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. In just under a month, students will need to understand the season’s game requirements and develop an effective strategy that will earn them the maximum amount of points. With the added stress of rankings and limited amount of time, team members are learning to use their time efficiently while making the most out of the FTC season. 

   Coach Scott Anson recognizes how diverse the Trobotix team is, and how that makes the team unique from other robotics teams. “He [Dean Kamen] really wants to get those under-represented populations in our country, women, and some of the other groups that kind of shy away from technology,” Anson explains, “and we [Trobotix] want to get those people in because we need a diverse set of ideas when we problem solve.” However, diversity is not the only positive aspect of joining the team. 

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FIRST has taught me that it is possible to be competitive and cooperate with other teams at tournaments, it was definitely something that was very new for me and not the type of competitive environment that I was used to. ”

— Matthew Bedell '24

    Mohamed Nour says, “I enjoyed every aspect of it, but [especially] just the idea of being in the same room with people who have the same goal in mind [is enjoyable]”. Jinann AbuDagga, a freshman on the team, explains her reason for joining the team. “I’ve always been interested in engineering and I had friends in the program and they told me about it.  I decided to come and check it out and I kind of really enjoyed it and fell in love with it.” Programmer Matthew Bedell ’24 shares his opinion as well. “Trobotix really feels like a community and there is this sense that everyone has a common goal. It’s competitive but everyone is working together, there never is any competition between the team members.” Although each member joined for different reasons, the team shares what AbuDagga explains as a “close knit” dynamic. Team members describe the overall benefits of what the team has to offer, with some highlights being an activity to list on their college application, and gaining useful life skills such as determination. 

   Trobotix is currently in their off-season and will have about eight months until the next season starts, giving them enough time to sharpen their skills in engineering and programming. The team is currently working on CAD training and finishing an incomplete robot. Considering that most of this year’s team members are rookies, students in the club want to make sure they come into the new season with added confidence and coordination. In order to stay organized, the team has created a calendar to follow for the coming months before the season begins. Plans include training activities, outreach, social media promotion, and branding. With these improvement plans, Trobotix hopes to be a stronger competitor in the 2022-2023 FTC season. 

   “My main takeaway is actually you don’t have to be smart to be part of this. You can enjoy it, no matter how smart your IQ level is because I would say whatever your reason for joining [is, you’ll find it]. If you join for friendship, you’ll find the friendship, if you join for the awards, you’ll find the awards. I joined because I wanted to make an impact and I think I made an impact on myself and on my teammates as well.” Mohamed Nour says. 

      Trobotix is a great club to join for anyone interested in diving into the world of engineering and programming as well as forming new relationships. It helps students interact with others with the same interests as well as letting participants gain new experiences with engineering, computer science, teamwork, and friendly competition. Club members have many chances to compete and gain state, national, and global titles. It’s also a great addition to college applications. However, it’s important to note that Trobotix only has a limited number of open spots. you can contact Haneen Eltyeb if you’re interested for more information.