By: Maya Gomez
Los Gatos High School’s robotics team, Iron Claw Robotics, is ready to dominate the field this school year. After spending the final weeks of summer break assembling training materials and creating a curriculum for the class, the team is finally jumping head first into their fall training season in preparation for the upcoming “Chezy Champs,” a fall preseason competition.
Programming Lead and senior Michael Kersey joined the Iron Claw squad their sophomore year while LGHS classes were still online. Kersey explained, “It wasn’t the best first-year experience, especially since I didn’t go in-person when [LGHS transitioned] to a hybrid curriculum.” Nonetheless, the online experience contributed to their current love of being part of the in-person team. Prior to joining Iron Claw, Kersey showed interest in programming and computer science. They revealed, “I joined an FLL (FIRST Lego League) robotics team, which is essentially robotics with legos. [It’s] much cheaper and safer than what we do now in the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition). From there, I just built on my computer science knowledge until I joined Iron Claw.” As Programming Lead, Kersey “[acts] as an experienced programmer and [takes] part in the leadership and administrative responsibilities for the programming team.”
Similar to Kersey, senior Max Schleicher has been a member of Iron Claw Robotics since his sophomore year. Schleicher revealed, “I was already interested in robotics freshman year. I knew that we had a team and all, but I was concerned about the workload clashing with the [marching] band.” Schleicher joined the team during quarantine, and this year, he found his place as the team’s CAD (computer-aided design) Lead. Pursuing engineering and design through Iron Claw was the right pathway for Schleicher, as the CAD student is planning to pursue Aerospace Engineering following graduation.
Senior Emi Hiroshima cited the creative freedom within Iron Claw Robotics as one of the primary reasons that she joined. “What initially got me interested in robotics is how hands-on and in-control you are within this team.” She elaborated, “You are in control of the design and what you want to build, which I thought was pretty cool.” As the Manufacturing Lead, Hiroshima teaches other members how to “machine in the machining room and help to design next year’s robot.”
Mechanical Director and senior Cole Massie joined the squad last school year. Massie’s decision to join stemmed from his early years. “I have always been interested. I really liked building things as a kid. I was in robotics in middle school and would have joined the high school team sooner if it wasn’t for COVID.” The 17-year-old found his passion for engineering at LGHS and is ecstatic to continue it after high school. “High school robotics is fun and a great introduction to the [STEM] world, but beyond that, college robotics is amazing.” Massie continued, “The freedom, the quality, and the community in college robotics is like a breath of fresh air. I can’t wait to go to college, so I can be a part of that.”
Going on four years in the program, senior Leison Gao dedicates himself to his position as the Iron Claw Operations Director. According to Gao, he is “the primary manager of the Operations Team. Above any technical or work related topics, [the team is] tasked with managing and supervising the work of the group and ensuring it is being performed adequately.” Gao prides himself in playing a large role in “the design and machining of the robotic arm [they] built last season to shoot balls,” one of his largest accomplishments. Aside from the work, Gao feels comfortable in the community, explaining, “I like the freedom and trust we have on the robotics team.”
Keep your eyes peeled for the robotics team during seventh period as they work on new projects in the Design Quad! On Oct. 8, Iron Claw Robotics will hold a Chipotle dine out fundraiser to raise money for the upcoming season. Find them on Instagram @ironclaw972 for further details regarding upcoming events and past seasons!