When James Whitcomb Weston ’19 was in 6th grade, he went to the Jesuit High School open house. He saw the robotics program and since then, had always wanted to be on the team.
Eight years after, James is now the head of the Jesuit robotics mechanical team. Members under his guide spend almost every Saturday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, working on designing and creating a R.O.V. (remote operated vehicle) that competes against other R.O.V.s in a tournament at the end of the year.
“There’s thousands of things going through your head,” said James. “It’s exciting, fun, and it’s stressful sometimes, but after you look past all those things, it’s the best experience you can have.”
In the tournament this year, there were a few setbacks. The major one was miscommunication between the electronics and robotics team. Another was the new camera system, which stopped working because it got wet. Despite these obstacles, the robotics team placed first in three catagories.
To get on the robotics team, you have to go through a long process. Members hand out applications for people to fill out, then look at returned applications and choose the ten best people. After, they conduct interviews with the ten. If an applicant is interested in mechanics, they have to build, test, or fix something. If they’re interested in electronics, they must code something. In the end, the robotics team usually brings on about four to five people per year, all while considering character and personality.
“We don’t just look at the mechanical skill,” said James. “We also look at the passion.”
The practices are more intense in May. Instead of just having meetings on Saturday, they have them on Thursday and Friday as well, spending a lot of time, effort and hard work on their R.O.V.
James himself has been on the robotics team since he was a freshman. After he graduates, he plans to use his experience on the robotics team and his experience in college as a way to make robots that improve our lives.
“I don’t really know what I want to do when I grow up,” said James. “But I do know I want to do something to expand knowledge or help the world.”