NC’s new robotics club brings nuts and bolts to the extracurricular catalog. The new club hopes to add more shiny trophies to the school’s case this spring through regional competitions in an effort to strengthen NC’s presence in CCSD STEM. The club, led by magnet sophomores Leona Wang-Longhurst and Kate Kunst, strives to introduce building and programming to NC.
“Growing up, I was always interested in engineering, programming, and robotics. When I came to NC one of the first classes I took was engineering and I noticed they didn’t have a Robotics club, so I started one to fuel that interest,” Wang-Longhurst said.
Although Robotics generally exists in most high school extracurricular catalogs due to major student interest, NC’s social studies focus seems to miss this STEM activity. The club aims to incorporate these interests by combining engineering and computer science at NC.
“Leona and I contacted teacher sponsors and found Mr. Cogbill. We are applying for grants and sponsors and we have been marketing to students to try to get students to hear about us,” Kunst said.
While the start-up of the club posed numerous challenges such as finding members and funding, the club continues to prove itself. Applying for grants and building the club’s presence became daily routines for the sophomores. Grants are essential to their success as robot parts and software used to code the machines are not provided by the school.
“We want to establish the group as a recurring club and make it through qualifying rounds. Extracurriculars have been a struggle to recruit, especially with COVID-19. We knew students wanted to join clubs to put on applications and gain back that high school experience,” Kunst said.
A portion of this year’s sophomores returned to in-person learning for the end of their freshman quarter. Others spent the entirety of their freshman year online, missing out on club sign-ups and school involvement. The Robotics Club members welcome students similar to Kunst who struggled to involve herself in school activities amid the pandemic. Despite its recent formation, the Robotics club lives up to its expectations and shows promise in chasing its goals.
FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, the largest high school robotics competition that spans an international level occurs in the spring when they will enroll in several competitions including FIRST within the county and the state. The Robotics club plans to remain with Wang-Longhurst and Kunst in charge until they graduate in 2024, with the positions passed down after. Wang-Longhurst hopes that by 2024 the club could expand so that they compete yearly in state and do water robotics. The pair expects the club to grow significantly in numbers by their senior year. Once the club finishes registering for competitions, it will reach its full potential.
Wang-Longhurst maintains high expectations for the group due to her passion for engineering and STEM. She hopes to study astrophysics at Stanford in the future. Robotics directly links to her post-secondary plans and the club will provide her with an abundance of experience. Wang-Longhurst proudly presents herself as a first-generation American on both sides of her family. Wang-Longhurst uses the reminder of her parents’ sacrifice to push herself to expand the club and compete.
“Seeing how my mom came from China to give me a better opportunity keeps me from burning out and keeps me pushing. If I didn’t have that background I don’t think I would have the confidence to start this club, find funding and enroll to compete,” Wang-Longhurst said.
The club meets twice a week, once on Tuesday morning and once on Thursday afternoon. Students can find posters with robotics’ Microsoft forms links around the magnet lounge and Mr. Cogbill’s room. Potential club members should text the remind code, @ncrobotic to 81010 to receive club information and updates. Lead by Kunst and Wang-Longhurst, NC gears up for the exciting future of its newfound Robotics team.