JROTC Roboto: New Robotics team kicks off at CLHS

From the Cadets 2020 Fall Magazine

By Jenna Lusk ’21

The 2019-2020 year brought about some new changes at Concordia Lutheran High School, but one of the most underground additions is the competitive Robotics team through JROTC.

Utilizing the international VEX Robotics program, students at Concordia have been given an unique opportunity to explore their engineering, construction, technical, programing and problem-solving skills and develop the groundwork of the robotics program for generations of future Cadets to come.

“We have been working on getting a robotics program put together for, I would say, the last five or six years. … What made this one work was good timing between the JROTC program, student involvement, growth of the Computer Science department and support from the administration,” said CLHS Computer Science teacher Scott Storm.

Working hand-in-hand with the JROTC, engineering, administration and the Computer Science department, teachers and staff have worked hard to develop the best robotics program for our students. Staff that helped support the kickoff of the Robotics program included Storm, JROTC instructor MAJ(R) John Sheaffer, Physics teacher Josh Mertz and Assistant Head of School Josh Sommermeyer.

The staff worked hard to organize grants and funding through the JROTC program in order to receive the funding the program needed to get started and then invited some of the best CLHS students to join the team. And once everything was in order, the CLHS Robotics team was created.

Last year, CLHS competes against VEX Robotics groups in the Midwest in the Tower Takeover Challenge. In this challenge, students are tasked to build robots that can stack blocks in their teams corners all while attempting to “takeover a tower.” The group was divided into two teams, Team A (freshman Matthew Bordner, sophomore Simon Fairchild, sophomore McKenzi Humbert, freshman Troy Zimmerman and sophomore Gabe Sommermeyer) and Team B (freshman Ayden Doan, junior Jenna Lusk, freshman Elliot McBride, freshman Ryan Morrison, junior Lauren Spires and freshman Eric Saunders). Cadets attended their first robotics meet on Jan. 18, in Seymour, Ind., where the teams placed 13th and 17th. They then attended their second meet on Feb. 15 in Indianapolis.

“Robotics is a good team building experience,” freshman Troy Zimmerman said while driving their team robot during a Friday lunch period.

“Robotics really brings students from all corners of Concordia to learn and bond together,” added junior Lauren Spires.

The CLHS team worked very hard, coming in almost every lunch period since the kickoff of the program to construct the robots, build the program, log the process and develop their driving skills for the competition.

Freshman Adyen Doan and sophomore Simon Fairchild both said enthusiastically, “I like building robots, robots, robots!”

With passionate students, dedicated teachers, and support from the administration and the JROTC program, the CLHS Robotics team will be an academic challenge generations of Cadets will enjoy.