Robotics Team concludes solid first season


The Robotics Team holds Willow, their entry in this year’s competitions. (Photo courtesy of Yearbook Club)

By Adan Villa, Editor

Imagine a grey robot with blue accents, its black wheels spinning as the rotors and plugs spring to life. The robot, named Willow, glides across the floor before lifting and strategically stacking – most unusually – ducks.

Pictured is Willow, the robot, with a spotted rubber duck on top. (Photo courtesy of Yearbook Club)

This year, Robotics Team’s “rookie” year, members focused on building a robot, Willow, to compete in tournaments, including Regionals, which were held at Kankakee High School in on February 19 in Kankakee, Illinois. Twenty-five teams competed at the event, and West Chicago’s team placed eleventh overall, also winning the “Rookie Sensation Award”, designated for novice teams with amazing breakout performances. The award provided a great end to Robotics Team’s inaugural season. 

“I am looking forward to taking what we learned this year and developing the skills we acquired. Believe it or not, building a robot is somewhat difficult; this year we mostly focused on making sure we could do the fundamentals well, and we didn’t try anything super fancy. Now that we have the basics down, we are going to try some more ambitious tasks like using basic machine learning for computer vision (having the robot identify objects through a camera),” said junior Jack Riconosciuto. 

During the season, the team posts its results on Instagram @wegorobotics94.

The team also plans to buy a 3D printer so that they can produce additional parts for their robot. The kit they purchased to build Willow only came with a couple pieces, and the team did have to create additional parts throughout the tournament season as they continued to test and retest their entry. If the team is able to purchase a 3D printer, the hope is that members can be trained on how to use the device. 

In the meantime, Robotics Team is working to increase its membership; they are preparing a demo, to be released soon to the STEM team at Leman Middle School, which provides an overview of the team and everything it has to offer, including valuable experience for those interested in STEM. 

The team practices in the LRC prior to a tournament. (Photo courtesy of Yearbook Club)

“I actually started the robotics team because, my freshman year, I was in TSI and Mrs. Walsh got me into it. I wanted to get hands-on engineering experience before going to college so I could learn about that field before trying to go into it. I would say it was a good decision,” said Effie Giannoudakos. 

Robotics Team, advised by LRC Director Carol Naughton, meets every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) to prepare for competitions, which are typically held on Saturdays or Sundays. Robotics Team is open to anyone interested in robot design and engineering: no experience is necessary.

Riconosciuto said, “My favorite part about this season was the dedication everyone put forth. Everyone was so driven to work together and build a good robot. I specifically would like to thank Mrs. Naughton who dedicated multiple hours three times a week, she even fed us several times.”