Robotics season has officially started with the release of this year’s game


Darsh Balani

Kyle Sehlin is seen working on Everything That's Radical’s robot.

Darsh Balani, Business Manager

PV robotics teams participate in FIRST Tech Challenge(FTC), a program by the non-profit company FIRST in which teams build and program robots to get as many points as possible in the game. However, FTC is more than just robots. The program emphasizes the importance of spreading STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) throughout the community and learning from STEM professionals.

There are many steps to take in order to have a functioning robot for competition. First comes the brainstorming process, in which many ideas are compiled to be deemed efficient or not. Once some ideas are chosen, a vote is cast to choose the design for the robot. “We use Computer-Aided Design to model the robot to see exactly how the robot is going to work,” Junior Kyle Sehlin said. “We need to know exactly what parts we need to build the robot.” 

Sehlin is a member of one of the PV teams, Everything That’s Radical. Both Everything That’s Radical and Deviation from the Norm, the second robotics team, are coached by Grant Houseman, one of the school’s technology and industrial design teachers.

Both teams also have big plans for their STEM outreach volunteering. “We plan on mentoring the FLL teams from all the PV elementary schools,” Sehlin said, “This is a great opportunity to inspire kids to continue pursuing STEM and participating in FIRST programs.”

FIRST robotics has been very influential for many of these students. Deviation from the Norm Senior member Kishore Vijaykumar spoke of his experience. “It has played a huge role in my life because I have been doing it since 6th grade. Through robotics, I have been able to develop a wide variety of skills from engineering and design to communication and business.” 

The Qualifiers competition will be held this upcoming January, Before then, there are checkpoint competitions where teams can test out their robots against other teams with little effect on Qualifiers. “We have around four weeks before each competition, so our team goes through the design process before each one,” Vijaykumar said. 

This year’s game has a unique twist to it as robots have to stack blocks and move a platform with the blocks on it. “Our robot needs to be very delicate when moving the foundation so blocks do not fall,” Sehlin said.