Wired Together – Robotics


Harvest Buchanan, Art Director/Reporter

The West Albany robotics team has been an ongoing club since 2002, when the team was first founded as two separate teams; WATSON from West, and The Phantoms from South. 

     SWARM is a representation of teamwork and skill, especially since it’s made up of students from two rival schools that have set aside differences to create a talented team. The team tries to balance leadership between the mentors and the students. Lead Mentor Robin Hobbensiefken tries to have the roboticists design and work together as much as they can without mentors stepping in.

     The mentors are very accommodating of what the students want to do for their creation, and they work very hard on these pieces so that they can go into a competition between hundreds of other teams, and possibly win despite so many competitors. “There’s teams all over. There’s 130 teams in the Northwest division alone,” Hobbensiefken says.

     Not only do they work well together, but they enjoy the process as well. Every meeting starts off with everyone standing or sitting in a circle while the mentors make announcements, explain the deadlines, talk about future meetings, and tell the students what they need to work on that day for the robot. 

     “There hasn’t really been a rivalry issue because at the end of the day, we all want to sit down and build a really cool robot,” senior Ben Howe said.

     But once they finish up, everyone disperses and immediately dives into what they were working on from the last meeting. The mentors and students talk about possible additions to the bot, what works and what doesn’t work, and helping each other through each step of the way. Robin loves working with the students of SWARM and has been working with them for years as well as Howe.

     While some are actually working on the robots hands-on, the others are doing research on computers, finding possible ways to rework the machine, or add onto it better. 

     SWARM is the type of team that others would hope to be like, in terms of teamwork and how they manage to create a bot to go against hundreds of other teams. They have been working well together for over a decade now, and are sure to go even further.