Northwest Robovikings: two years in the making


Menna Ibrahim, staff writer

For some, the trend of designing and building came and ended upon stepping on their first Leggo, while for others, the passion for creating, programming and working with a group of friends with the same goals to construct something so precise that it might just literally “crush their enemies” is a fire that never died out.

Although only two years old and not widely advertised at Northwest, The Robovikings, Northwest’s tightly-knit robotics club, has qualified for the First Tech Challenge State Championship both years.

“I think it’s pretty impressive for a beginning team to make it to States twice, let alone come in 27th the first time and 17th the second,” junior Chris Marble said.

Under the supervision of Ray Alford, a network engineering and digital forensics teacher at Northwest, the club consists of around 20 students, each with a different vital role to play on the team.

“Basically our designers design the robot so the builders can build it and the programmers and program it,” sophomore Josh White said. “We also have people in inventory and people on the notebook and then our leaders.”

According to Marble and freshman Andrew Collin, the judges focus heavily on the electronic notebook which is a record that stores information following everything that has happened to and by the robot since from its construction to its presentation.

Usually on Saturdays, freshman Anagha Mutya claimed that their “tournaments on average last from about 5 in the morning to 7 in the evening.”

Yet even without the early mornings and grueling Saturdays spent among other teams itching for an award taken into consideration, the club’s breaks are minimal.

“We basically spend the entire year working on this one robot and try to make every little thing fit and hope we’ve done enough that it’ll work the day of our competition,” White said.

With their 2016-2017 season over, The Robovikings have taken the initiative to jumpstart their plans on next year’s plans.

Reflecting on their strengths and weaknesses, the club agrees that although they all “got along pretty well” and everyone “showed a lot of productivity and willingness to commit,” their main weakness laid in the fact that there were simply too many people on the team which often made progress more difficult to come by than it could be.

“Next year we’re looking at making and establishing two different teams [as well as becoming] more organized and creating more of a name for Robovikings. We also want to move past States and probably get to Superregionals,” Mutya said.

While not all 20 students wish to go into fields pertaining to the skills primarily used in robotics, not a single student showed a sign of regret or hesitancy in his or her desire to continue with The Robovikings in their upcoming high school years.

Attributing friendship to his most prominent reason for enduring the often tiring schedule, Marble said, “I have a lot of friends in this group. [Word of the robotics team] goes around. It started in a small community in the art hall before it escaped its little corner. We all obviously hope it goes further.”