By Andrew Chae
In Room 604 everyday after school, the dedicated members of Engineering Club work away at their projects.
The Engineering Club is for students interested in the STEM fields who want to develop skills they hope to use in the future.
According to Geoffrey Fierro, the club president, “The goal of the La Cañada Engineering Club is to acquire and spread knowledge and skills of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by participating in several robotics and engineering competitions.”
Made up of around twenty-five people this year, the club focuses on four yearly projects: a LEGO Robotics Program for the elementary and middle school students, a robotics program for beginners, the main robotics project used in competitions, and a solar boat to race against other engineering teams.
The LEGO Robotics Program is the team’s first project. At the beginning of the year, all interested members served as mentors to La Cañada elementary and middle school students, helping them with their projects.
The team’s next project is a robotics program dedicated to teaching newer members about the fundamentals of robotics and how the club operates. The team enters this project into the FIRST Tech Challenge, also known as the FTC.
Following the beginning robotics project is the main robotics project which is used in competition, specifically the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition). The club is #1 in this league and 5th overall in the state. Lasting six weeks, the goal is to complete a robot for the competitions in Ventura and Las Vegas. This robot is also displayed at school events, such as Club Day.
Both of these competitions are held by FIRST, also known as For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
The team’s final project is a solar powered boat race, in which a 16 foot solar powered canoe is built and raced at Lake Skinner against other teams in Southern California. Known as the Solar Cup, it is sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District and other local water agencies. Kits are provided by the MWD to build the boats used for the competition.
The Engineering Club provides a one-of-a-kind hands-on experience that most other clubs can’t recreate. The experience provided is beneficial to those interested in STEM careers, as students in the club also work alongside volunteer mentors from JPL and Xerox.
Mr. Zimmerman, the club advisor, stated, “One of the great benefits of the club is that it generates student self confidence, whether that is in presentation, production or design skills. One common thing that our alumni tell us is that when they go off to college, they are ahead of their peers because they have done things rather than just read about them.”
Micah Smyth, a member of the engineering club, described the work attitude by stating, “I would say members are mostly quieter people, but all are focused on the task at hand. There is a common attitude of ‘get the job done’.” He also added that they remain focused on all the projects throughout the year.
Although the Engineering Club requires a large time commitment, the club provides students with a great learning opportunity. If anyone is interested in joining, they are currently finished their main robotics project and will be meeting in Room 604 every day after school.
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