Rebooting the Program

The MN Robotics team hosts its largest tournament ever


MN’s auditorium and stage, typically used for theatrical and musical purposes, took on a new role on January 6th and 7th as the robotics team hosted their second annual tournament, the Vex Expo, this year’s much larger than the previous. However, the program has had to grow tremendously over the years to get to this point.

In general, the robotics team’s goal is to provide an outlet for students to channel their knowledge in STEM subjects into a tangible result while collaborating with their peers and learning along the way.

“The way I look at it is that each person has a nebula of ideas in their mind, an entire toolset given to them by public education, but they don’t have anywhere to apply that in a career-oriented setting,” senior Victor Chan said. “Robotics aims to fill that gap.”

Robotics coach and program manager, Jeffrey Brady, oversees all nine teams across MNHS and MNMS. He has helped the program grow and change over time, especially in the past two years, and aims to further its success in the years to come.

“I would like to… [grow] the competitive nature of our teams,” Brady said. “Just like any varsity sport, competition matters, and a level of program success is measured as a result.”

This year, the team was able to host their own tournament, inviting a variety of schools from Nebraska and surrounding states. Students from all over the city came to compete on the MN stage and show off their skills in what is considered to have been an extremely successful competition.

“All teams that participated [gave] great reviews,” Brady said. “We were able to provide a World’s level tournament experience for the teams [attending].”

Chan and senior Patrick Stolinski, two team captains in the robotics program, played key roles in planning the tournament and keeping it on track throughout the day. Tasks included ensuring all necessary equipment was where it needed to be and making sure the technological aspects were set up correctly.

“Overall it became a really fun event,” Stolinski said. “Towards the end, I was like ‘Okay, it’s running smoothly. I don’t have to do anything now.’”

Between competition prep work that begins up to a year in advance, consistent practice before and after school, and even a two-week summer camp, robotics has proven to be a considerable time commitment.

“We have other varsity sport athletes that compete with the robotics team, so [the time commitment] isn’t something that should discourage people who are involved in other activities,” Stolinski said. “As long as you’re communicating with your team on when you’re going to be gone and know how to be accountable for your responsibilities, it hasn’t been an issue.”

By and large, members of the robotics team find their time participating well spent, and seem to thoroughly enjoy the culture and experience that go hand in hand with the learning opportunities.

“We have people that are from all walks of life, but we all share one thing in common, and that is trying to find solutions, use critical thinking, and apply those to real-world problems,” Chan said.

Those on the robotics team want their peers to know that anyone can join and learn as they go. While the activity may seem challenging to many, both Chan and Stolinski believe that isn’t the case.

“Robotics is an activity that anyone can be involved in, even those with no prior experience whatsoever,” Chan said. “As long as they come in with an interest, they are able to succeed in our program and develop that interest into actual ability.”