Expanding Horizons

RAVEN Robotics welcomes students with different talents to join their club


Photo courtesy of Stephen Derenski

Nicholas Smith works on a robot for the international Robotics competition, RAVEN Robotics.

Kendra Minch, senior at Francis Howell High School, has been granted the joy of leading a club she feels passionately about and working with students who share her passion. This club is Raven Robotics. Their name was not “pulled out of a hat”, but has a specific and unique meaning: Robotic And Vehicular Engineering by Nerds. Raven Robotics is the competitive team for the Francis Howell School District. Minch loves robotics and all aspects associated with it. 

“Robotics has been a place where I can learn more about stem fields and get an idea of what I want to do after high school,” Minch stated. 

She is currently the vice president of Robotics. Minch especially adores the learning and technical skills the students retain from being a member of this organization.

“Raven Robotics is trying to help give students jump start on skills like wiring, programming, welding, and building objects out of metal and wood,” Minch said.

This program is beloved by its members because it delivers them a sense of purpose and responsibility, while allowing them creativity and various learning opportunities. The Robotics team has been building robots and competing since the year 2004, and continues to do so. Each year, the Robotics team constructs a robot that will be put to the test in First Robotics Competition, an event involving schools from around the globe. Louis Jesse believes the team needs to bring together many different skills to be successful at the competition. 

“We’re building the obstacle courses for everything right now,” Jesse said. “We build a robot and it does certain things so that we go on to the next level. So, for example, throw a frisbee in like a hoop or something like that. And you have to program it to do that. But there’s so many different areas like welding, electrical, and frame. All that has to come together to make the prototype work.”

“There’s so many different areas like welding, electrical and frame. All that has to come together to make the prototype work.”

— Louis Jesse

Robotics, as described by Jesse, is no simple task. Many aspects are put into succeeding in any given competition and are required to excel at a high level of performance.     The immense amount of work is not that of a single person, or even a small group of individuals, but a team. The indicated team is composed of people with many different skills and talents.

 This year, Raven Robotics is hoping to extend their list of skills on the team and create a welcoming environment for all students. The club as a whole has allowed those with other unique skills to work among them. These characteristics include business,STEM, and media aspects. The particular gifts are not only useful in the Robotics program, but in the real world as well. The team has successfully integrated this new form of learning, and with it, the kids who excel in these fields. 

The Francis Howell Robotics Club has been a place where kids are free to express their inner innovation through the form of building robots. However, with the new programs being put into place, more students than ever are welcomed to be apart of this family. Minch, as vice president, is working to make this season one of the best.

“We encourage students who don’t want to build robots to be a part of our media and business team. These teams are just as important as our STEM teams because they help to keep everything in the background running while we build the robot. They do everything from posting on our social media accounts, to keeping our finances balanced and helping to get sponsors for the team,” Minch explained.

This group would not be as efficient nor as effective without the hard work and talent from members working behind the scenes. Raven Robotics is an organization that requires a lot of outside work, including persuading sponsors to donate funds. This task is assigned to the members “behind the scenes.” 

Social media is the main outlet of information in today’s society, a major communication network used to recruit new members and share material about the team. The members are in charge of this operation. The Robotics club may be centered around building a robot capable of doing great things, but these opportunities would not be available without the commitment from members of the business, STEM, and media teams. 

Junior Stephen Derenski, lead programmer of the Raven Robotics organization, speaks of his experiences in robotics.

“[Robotics] can help you understand different things like engineering, programming, business, and media. There’s all sorts of different things you can do inside of it that you can get exposed to,” Derenski stated. “It has taught me so much more. I got more experienced and I learned more [about programming].”

This program has an immense impact on every member’s life. Now, it can make a difference in many more students’ lives, even if their skills do not lie in building or programming a robot, but instead in managing accounts or using personable skills to arrange sponsors. The members of the Robotics team urge everyone interested to join the fun. 

“I would most definitely recommend it because especially if you’re going into STEM fields, it can help you understand different things like engineering, programming, business, and media,” Derenski added.

Jesse agrees that Robotics is beneficial for many types of students. 

“For students looking for new things like in a brainy, logical sense. It’s really good for those students,” Jesse stated. 

Minch also believes that there is a social aspect to Robotics.

“Everyone is open to being friends and they are there to have a good time,” Minch said.

Despite where students’ interests lie, there will always be a place for these particular talents and desires in the Robotics club. Whether the reason for joining is the hope that engineering or business is taught, finding a group of people to call friends, or discovering a future career path, Robotics in all its glory is the perfect club.