Student Voices: The evolution of Don Lugo’s Robotics Club.


Photo by Artemis Statler. Josue and Jayzee(out of frame) test their engineering project during a robotics meeting.

Mark Sparkle, Guest Writer

The Don Lugo Robotics Club is changing rapidly. In previous years the club participated in VEX Robotics Competitions, where they were given a specific challenge for their robot to do. This year the club has slowed down a bit due to their former advisor, Mr. Engstrom, leaving the school. With few returning members and a new advisor, the club had to figure out and organize a lot of things by themselves. Josue Gonzalez, who’s been in the club for four years and worked with Mr. Engstrom to set up competitions, expressed that the club had slowed down after the change. “He was extremely knowledgeable and experienced, so back then the club was extremely active. There were even competitions where the robotics team was building a robot suitable to function in water. So we were very involved in the competitions back in the day, a lot of Vex Robotics competitions as well,” Robotics Club president Yahir Orihuela explained. “Engstrom knew all the finances, links and technicalities so we struggled to run the club effectively when he left since we didn’t have a guide. But I met the coolest underclassmen who I would never have got to know and connect with if it weren’t for the robotics club. As far as projects go it wasn’t as successful this year, we’ve been moving a bit slow.”

It’s nice to know that we can pass ideas down and keep friendships across.

— Yahir Orihuela

There have been some obstacles this school year, but the students had the chance to test the waters of independence. There may have not been a lot of progress with projects but they have definitely learned things along the way. Robotics Club member Marley Villa commented, “It’s been pretty slow recently after we lost Engstrom.” Everyone has had their own views on the big changes the club went through. “This year’s been robotic-y. It’s kooky,” student Xavier Panduro explained.

As a newer member of the robotics club, I too have had my fair share of experiences. I am not as well acquainted with engineering and other robotic activities as the other members, but I can say I am learning little by little. I did have the opportunity to participate in a competition last year, the robot was a little inefficient but we seemed to get pretty far into the competition and it was a lot of fun! I like to believe that the fun part is all that matters. I got to know a lot of great people and we all seemed to enjoy each other’s company. We shared a lot of laughs and learned from each other. I think I’m a bit emotionally attached to the club and its members, they’ve really done a lot for me even when they didn’t know they were. I struggled a lot with mental and physical health during my first year of high school and the club members were so comforting, and they made me laugh a lot. Each person with their own unique personality. I would mainly help out with organizing and the actual building of Vex Robots due to my lack of experience but it was still a lot of fun, we would usually talk while working on whatever project we had. The club has done so much for me even when they didn’t know it. Xavier made me laugh a lot when showing me different videos and memes and Yahir would listen to me rant about my grades. They were some of my first friends at lugo. I can’t forget Artemis who introduced me to the club in the first place. She comforted me throughout a lot of rough times and showed me this awesome club with awesome people. I’m actually so grateful for everyone in the club they’re all so amazing. It’s going to be sad to see a lot of them graduate this year but I’m so happy for them moving forward to the next step in their lives.

This year we’ve been working on building a car using various parts we found in the engineering room. So far we’ve gotten the motors to work relatively well, we are now just trying to order the parts but it’s going to take a little while since the district takes their sweet little time to approve order requests from students.  We will probably get to building the car itself next year. I’m very excited and happy about the progress the group has made.  This school year’s been fun and I can’t wait to see what we do next year!