Westwood Robotics Holds First Meeting of Year

By Lipika Chatur, Reporter

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  • Ishan Deshpande ‘21 gets his laptop ready to conduct a discussion about programming for the first meeting of FTC Westwood Robotics. Before the meeting, he, along with the other team, had to create a thoughtful presentation considering the virtual venue. “We put in a lot of time and effort over the summer to get Robotics fully ready for the virtual environment,” Deshpande said.

  • Josh Eversmann, the lead mentor for FTC, is presenting different field elements of this year’s competition. Before the first meeting, he had to organize Zoom meetings and come up with plans that he wanted the club to execute during this chaotic year. “I can’t wait to start doing activities and events together and helping members learn more about the field of Robotics,” Eversmann said.

  • Diya Rajon ‘22 gets her laptop ready to lead Team Boomerang’s brainstorming session for the first meeting of FTC Westwood Robotics. Before the meeting, she along with the other team, had to create a thoughtful presentation considering the virtual venue. “While it has been a little hard to keep up with the meetings, I am trying my best to stay on top of everything by carefully reading the game manuals page by page and catching up on some robotics terminology. The new members seem enthusiastic to start. I hope that at the end of the season, they are not only excited about next year but also genuinely happy that they have been part of a ‘robotics family’ because that is what it feels like working late nights and having dinners together,” Rajon said.

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Westwood Robotics held its first meeting of the year for the Junior Varsity program, whose members partake in a competition called FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). To accommodate for the virtual situation, they used the platform Zoom and hosted meetings from Monday Sept. 28 through Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 4:30 PM for each of the five Westwood Robotics FTC Teams: Arrowhead, Tomahawk, Boomerang, Hunga Munga, and Atlatl. 

“Virtual robotics has definitely changed the games and the progression of our meetings. Our meetings used to be super interactive and hands-on, but now everything has been pushed back to lessons with presentations and Zoom calls,” Ishan Deshpande ‘21 said. “It will be great to see how teams continue learning with Zoom and our help, even though it will be a struggle. On the contrary, I think Zoom will provide a more professional setting so we can teach a lot more, rather than wasting time and fooling around during our in-person meetings.” 

The meeting started with an introduction presentation by FTC Directors Lipika Chatur ‘21 and Sohan Agnihotri ‘21 where they introduced the game challenge as well as the nuts and bolts of this year’s season. After, they moved on to a brainstorming session where each team and their designated student mentors discussed pros and cons of different types of mechanisms and robot designs. They also highlight the methods members can use to stay updated with all the meetings and events during this virtual time. These include email, Remind 101, Discord, as well as their Google Calendar (which can be found by visiting their website). 

“I am very appreciative of the flexibility of all the members and fellow officer teams during this difficult situation. We worked very hard to best accommodate everyone during this virtual season; robotics primarily is hands-on work, but we wanted to make sure that people got the opportunity to partake in something they are passionate about,” Rushil Patange ‘21 said. “We have done this by creating presentations for online meetings as well as multiple forums where everyone can communicate and discuss.” 

Their main way to spread Robotics knowledge to the incoming freshmen and sophomores is through the online ‘Guidebook’ which has links to numerous resources in the forms of PDFs, videos, and articles related to Hardware, CAD, Software, and general game information. Every meeting, members are assigned certain parts of the guidebook, and upon completion, they take a short check-in quiz. This allows new members to become well-versed with Robotics terminology and more easily participate in discussions. It is currently the most crucial resource that members can use to integrate themselves into Robotics during this virtual year.

“We are adapting to the virtual environment and trying our best to maintain proper communication, engagement, and have productive meetings. I am looking forward to this season because we have great mentors and a lot more teams,” Joshua LeRoy ‘22 said. “I can’t wait to see teams qualify into regional competitions as well as getting freshmen and sophomores to learn more about robotics.” 

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