Spartan robotics making a comeback



As team 5045 moves into their first competition, members prepare their bot for the fight. They come back round after round with something new to fix.

Since the team’s start, Team 5045 puts hours into curating the perfect bot to demolish other teams in competition. However, this year, the team has been built practically from scratch. Only two of the team’s members had previous hands-on experience in competitions; the rest picked it up along the way

“Every year, we open up applications and in reality anyone from freshman to seniors can apply,” Design Captain Kevin Chang (11) said. “We prefer taking in freshmen because they have a longer time to learn how the team operates and eventually lead the team. Usually, applications will open pretty early in August when the rest of the teams have their interest meetings.”

After Team 5045 gathers new recruits, they dive straight into practice to prepare for build season. During the first semester, the team uses this ample time to explore different bot designs to gain more experience before the competition rounds.

“[The build process] starts with understanding the [competition] that they give you during January and creating a design that fits the challenge,” Uddish Sood (12) said. “Then you start with prototypes for the first design of the bot and move into building the robot itself.” 

Even with all the intensive planning involved in the build process, there are still bound to be issues. The true test is to see if all of the prep between August and January prepares them for surprise obstacles. 

“Due to the supply chain with covid, a lot of the parts that we ordered still have not come in,” Chang said. “Most of the time, you won’t follow your blueprint exactly, and you will have to make adjustments during the season. We ordered belts, and instead, we had to use chains [for the driving pulley system] in the middle since they did not come in on time. It actually helped us a little bit because the chain is shorter and takes up less space.”

Once the team returned from the April 2022 competition, members remained dedicated to their bots, continuing to stay after school to practice builds. Without the additional stress of competition looming over their heads, their now two hour sessions are much more relaxed, but just as enriching.

“Robotics gave me a reason to come to school,” Sood said. “I used to just come to school and then go home. That is sort of the daily mindset. But now, I come to school and cannot wait to go to robotics after school.”

After all the work in competition season, the team has built amazing relationships with team members along with their bot. The amount of time they spend collaborating allows them to grow and learn different life skills to build connections. Having to step into unfamiliar roles this year pushed the members’ learning curve, providing a new facet of leadership. 

“It feels special,” Chang said. “We are not a very attention soaking group, and the sports teams get a lot of publicity. There are other teams that win a lot more awards, but I kind of feel special because at the end of the four years of high school, you have completed maybe one or two robots that you have really worked on. That feeling is kind of amazing.”