Executive Business Manager
The Beach Cities Robotics team held its open house event on June 3 at Redondo Union High School, in order to educate Manhattan Beach residents on robotics, and to recruit new members to join the team for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.
The open house is designed to demonstrate the advanced nature of the robotics program and its five sub-teams, each of which specialize in a different aspect of the process of building a robot from scratch.
“We make the robot ourselves in our main sub-teams,” Program Team Lead Charlie Fitzgerald said. “Northrop Grumman, one of our sponsors, is really appreciated because every year they send over new mentors, and we interact with their employees, but they aren’t there because they have to, they are there because they want to.”
The robots continue to find success in competitions, like regional and world finals, on a large scale. The last robot wasn’t as successful as previous robots, but it still made it further than the majority of other programs and organizations competing, according to Fitzgerald.
“Going to the tournaments is stressful but a lot of fun,” Fitzgerald said. “You can count on at least five things going wrong during a tournament, but it’s gratifying when you see the robot out there in every competition.”
The open house’s main goal was to provide outreach to the South Bay and those interested in joining the team for the season, beginning next January. These new members are usually trained before the season from September to December.
“The open house educates those outside of the team, but also to recruit for future team members and introduce them to our team and what we do,” Fitzgerald said. “We get a lot of middle schoolers, and that’s more or less our target demographic.”
The open house also emphasized the importance of robotics and their potential role in the advancement of education. The Beach Cities Robotics Club works with many universities for scholarship opportunities.
“The organization has a lot of integrated scholarships with a lot of colleges,” Fitzgerald said. “Working with mentors for more than 200 hours, and they might be the people who I work with in my dream job.”
The open house’s overall goal to monitor interest and recruit new members in the South Bay is clearly met when potential members become familiar with the corporate sponsors and the amount of money they each donate, according to Fitzgerald. One example of these sponsors is Northrop Grumman.
“Northrop Grumman is our biggest sponsor by far, donating about $20,000 to us last year,” Fitzgerald said. “Each of the other companies are far behind, but they don’t donate small amounts either.”
The Beach Cities Robotics Club has a $60,000 budget for the entire season. The robot itself costs $20,000 to build and maintain per year. This money also attracts mentors who have considerable experience in the field.
“There’s such an immense amount of talent here from the mentors and I’ve learned so much here,” Fitzgerald said. “We have 15 mentors and about 50 kids, and three of the mentors have their Phds in computer science.”