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LGHS senior Emi Hiroshima is watching her hard work pay off after dedicating the past two years to Iron Claw Robotics. With graduation only a couple weeks away, Hiroshima is bittersweetly concluding her time with Team 972.
While Hiroshima’s initial interest in building and machinery sparked her freshman year, her robotics journey truly began in 2020. “I started robotics in sophomore year during COVID, so I didn’t really get to do a lot of machining then,” the senior recalled. “But, I really found an interest in specifically machining, manufacturing, assembling to make a robot my junior year, because that’s when we came back from COVID.” Once she was able to work in-person with the team, which includes manufacturing teacher Aaron Payne and experienced 972 alumni, Hiroshima not only developed expertise in both manual and computer numerical control (CNC) machining, but also advanced her leadership abilities.
This year, Hiroshima served as Iron Claw Robotics’s Machining Lead, managing all parts set to manufacture for the robot. This lead position prompted many memorable experiences, such as cutting a thick, quarter-inch plate on a CNC router and making a gearbox. One of the team’s pivotal moments followed their first competition in Hueneme Port: “We realized our arm and claw wasn’t really the best design. Some of our senior students redesigned while taking inspiration from other teams.”
Iron Claw’s redesign paid off under Emi and others’ guidance, with the team going on to win both the San Francisco Regional and the Archimedes Division at the World Championships in Houston. “After our redesign, it was more laid-back. There were fewer errors hardware-wise,” Hiroshima reflected. Their mechanical reliability brought Hiroshima to tournaments where she met several other robotics teams, not only from the US, but also Mexico and Australia.
Hiroshima is pursuing mechanical engineering after high school, determining her excitement for “engineering in general, but also the hands-on work for my major.” She will also continue manufacturing, looking forward to exploring bigger shops and practicing on different machines.
As she prepares to leave LGHS in the rearview, Hiroshima hopes to leave an impression on the underclassmen, specifically encouraging both incoming and current LGHS students to “try new things, overcome fear, and embrace opportunities.” Hiroshima will undoubtedly be irreplaceable everywhere she goes, just as she has on Iron Claw Robotics and the Los Gatos community.