Author Archives: Rabab Karimjee

Robot Reveal 2017


Written by Rabab Karimjee ’17

Thousands of teams have been designing and building a robot for the past 6 weeks to participate in the annual FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) competitions. Among them is Team 1967, the Janksters, who have created a robot for this year’s challenge, Steamworks, after a rigorous Build Season that has tested their technical and creative abilities.

In their twelfth year, the Janksters have grown to sixty members and embarked on the six week journey from January to the end of February with an enthusiastic dedication and a wonderful team of 24 mentors. Due to the increasing amount of rookies, the Janksters saw many changes that allowed for more timely work with the challenge of organizing and communicating within such a large group. With each week came many obstacles, forcing the team to occasionally completely redesign and shift their priorities. Some parts of the robot were being built faster than others, but the final product prevailed in time for Robot Reveal Night.

With over 150 members in the audience, including family, friends, and faculty, the Janksters were able to display their hard work, collectively more than 8,000 hours The robot drove through the gym and successively climbed, one of the Janksters’ originals goals when brainstorming in early January.

Many of the mechanisms were not fully completed or tested, but fortunately, they only required a few minor adjustments! After the various committees and leaders were able to discuss their contributions and hardships, the audience was free to learn more about FRC and the team’s accomplishments. The Janksters were happy to answer any questions and showcase their individual projects.

With the end of the Build Season and a functioning robot that cannot be touched until competition, the Janksters are proud of how far they have come and look forward to getting ready for competition. This year, they will be participating in the following:

  1. Ventura Regional: March 15-18 (Wed-Sat)
  2. Silicon Valley Regional: March 29- April 1 (Wed-Sat)

We hope to see you there!

Intuitive Surgical Open House

On Saturday, October 1, I had the opportunity to attend an open house at Intuitive Surgical, a local corporation that creates robots for surgical use. It was fascinating to see how robots are used in the health care field. I was able to test out several robots, and experience their ability to make very small, precise movements, based on my own hand movements. I also participated in a team building activity, building a house out of cards, tape, and string. The structure had to support a family of gummy bears, while withstanding the wind of a hairdryer. This activity gave me a chance to interact with other teams and work on my collaboration, engineering, and problem-solving skills. I really enjoyed this open house, and would like to thank Intuitive Surgical for providing such an amazing opportunity to robotics teams in the area.

Madeleine Waldie

Class of 2020

Robotics Boot Camp/ New Year

Joining the Janksters was the best decision I made in my freshman year. Since the first year of high school is normally just a taste test of all the different options, I sampled more than one extracurricular activity. Trying Performance Choir, Filipino Cultural Dance, and Robotics at the same time is not an easy task, but thankfully, the team helped me cope with sanity and assured me that everything was going to be fine. During the summer before my rookie year, I attended the Robotics Boot Camp, where I learned some engineering skills and met some people who would eventually be my closest friends. With them, I embarked on adventures during build season and competition season, where I was introduced to button hunting, one of my now favorite things to do at a competition. I’ve decided that this year, as a veteran, Robotics would be my main course, with still some flavors of my performing arts background because the social and technical skills I’ve gained by meeting other teams and building the robot itself are characteristics that will eventually help me in the future. Although many say that sophomore year is no longer like the bright and easy path of the freshmen, I am really looking forward to the challenges and successes that we will accomplish this year. Let’s go Janksters!

Jayel Ambat

Class of 2019

Boot camp was an amazing experience for me! We learned many essentials in each robotics category. The freshmen were taught how to CAD, how to safely use power tools, what the marketing team did, and about Arduino. My favorite parts were learning to CAD and to use power tools. We also did many bonding activities like “never have I ever”. These were great ways to connect with other Janksters. Towards the end, we worked in groups to create a Rube Goldberg project promoting teamwork and creativity. It was a fun and educational week!

Maya Kesapradist

Class of 2020


Stop Build


The Janksters have made phenomenal progress this Build Season, and we are so proud of all members for their determination and organization throughout these challenging six weeks.

In Kickoff, the team was given a video and a 100-page game manual. They delved into the depths of the game in order to understand exactly what we need. Cynthis Chung ’19 commented, “By the end of the day, we ended up with a long list of great ideas that are going to contribute to the making of our robot”.

The team were then ready to come up with a strategy after sorting through everyone’s goals, ultimately deciding on one that would best fit our capabilities and objectives. Concrete ideas were created, and prototypes were made. Prototyping allowed everyone to experience problems and solve them, narrowing broad ideas to the best, msot rational option. Katie McLaughlin ’19 summed it up perfectly when she said “My favorite part is seeing all these crazy ideas start to form something that is becoming more realistic. After much discussion and troubleshooting, members started finalizing factors like how actual mechanism will function, materials they will use, and solving any issues that they come across”.

Once actual committees were created , the Build Season process became much more goal-oriented, and each group of students was able to bond throughout the next few weeks. Mechanical became separated into Ball Manipulation, Field Elements, Scaling, and Chassis. All committees kept working hard despite the time crunch of deadlines. but they began to stress when Robot Reveal came around the corner.

Though the team didn’t know if the robot was going to work in time, but it was fully functional for family, friends, and teachers to enjoy, so we were able to make finishing touches before Stop Build. Despite the many mechanisms it has, including 10 wheels, two electronics boards were able to fit on. Long hours did not bring anyone down, and around 2 hours before Bag and Tag, the robot was able to go around defenses, shoot boulders, and move with maneuverability.

Yesterday, our coach returned to school with various pints of ice cream to continue our tradition of naming the robot. She collected the names of the many employees that had helped her in the process of buying ice cream, toppings, and syrups. One name was picked out, and the team is ecstatic about the result. We are ecstatic to welcome Cierra of 2016 into our robot family!

The team is now preparing for competition, and the drive team has been decided. There’s a time crunch to get some practice in with the second robot, and all the committees are trying to consolidate items to pack. Additionally, members Tamara Kawa and Tiffany Ta are practicing for their presentation in Chariman’s Award, which they will show to the judges at our first competition, Central Valley Regional. Come out to Madera and watch Cierra perform for the first time on March 11 and 12th!



Robot Reveal Night 2016


On Sunday Night, Notre Dame High School was filled with excitement as the Janksters, Notre Dame’s robotics team, proudly presented the result of six weeks of hard work. More than 150 parents and teachers watched with amazement as the robot maneuvered its way across the Learning Commons!

The night started off with a student-run presentation about the general process the team goes through during Build Season from “kickoff” to “bag and tag.” The four main committees (mechanical, electronics, programming and marketing) then shared their goals and highlights from this year’s build season. Some of these goals were lofty and couldn’t be fully achieved, but students found true reward in the journey.

Following the student presentations, Coach Marta Carrillo shared details of the hours that had been contributed during the season – more than 8,000! When asked about the most significant part of the night, Nandana Suresh ’19 said it was “the amount of total hours everyone put in,” which was by far the most in the history of our team.

When it was finally time to reveal the robot, the crowd was full of excitement and curiosity. The robot made its way through the middle of the Learning Commons with maneuverability that did not disappoint. Amritha Sankrappan ’18 commented, “It was fun and a great learning experience. It was cool to see our robot move for the first time.” Some team members had never seen the robot’s full range of capabilities so they were as surprised as parents and teachers to see it pick up and shoot a boulder in the air before successfully crossing a defensive obstacle.

The last hour was set aside for the audience to see the robot up close, ask team members questions they may have, look at the marketing committee’s various accomplishments and mingle with others while enjoying snacks.
We hope our guests enjoyed Robot Reveal Night as much as the team did because their support has been our source of inspiration throughout the build season. We have further improved our robot since Robot Reveal Night and look forward to competition!

(Originally published on Notre Dame San Jose)


Week 6 of Build


Hooray! It’s the last week of the 2016 Build Season, and the Janksters are making loads of progress as they realize that Stop Build is only a few days away.

The Mechanical Committee has finished CADing for the most part, but subcommittees are struggling to finish their large projects:

Field Elements finished a full set of bumpers and are now trying to finish the second set of bumpers, along with a shield.

Scaling made revisions to their scissor lift in order to make it fully functional, and they have also created a cross brace on the chassis.They are a little behind schedule but working hard to mount, as well as build, various elements.

Chassis are very close to finishing the chassis for the final robot, but they do need to assemble parts for a second Chassis.

Point Scoring has built all of their components but are having worried that they may not have enough time to finish their mechanism!

The Programming Committee is nearly finished coding for the robot’s different elements, but they have to compile all of those codes to ensure that it works on the electronics board. They are currently working on autonomous and working through any obstacles that show up along the way.

Meanwhile, the Electronics Committee mounted and debugged various electronics boards on the robot, all of which were found to be successful!  However, they still have to mount the battery mount, work on limit switch mounting, and make a few finishing touches on the robot’s final electronics board.

Finally, Marketing has completed most of their projects, including bows, t-shirts, and buttons, all of which will be ready for Robot Reveal Night. They have been consistent with their social media plan and are now working hard on giveaways for competition. Robot Reveal will undoubtedly bring a few new tasks for the committee to work on.

We look forward to these last few days and will be proud of the robot, no matter it’s capabilities.

As usual, the team would not have been able to accomplish any of this without it’s sponsors, mentors, and parents. Thanks for all of the support!



Week 2 of Build

Being a rookie at the same time as being involved in other activities makes the opening weeks of build season that much more hectic but also, so much more exciting. This past week marked the end of Week 2 of Build Season. Week 2 consisted of a lot of brainstorming and research. To make this process more efficient, my committee (mechanics) split into subgroups to tackle different components of the robot. I was assigned to the Scaling Subgroup to design a mechanism that can scale the tower in less than 15 seconds at the end of the match. My favorite part is seeing all these crazy ideas start to form something that is becoming more realistic. After much discussion and troubleshooting, we started finalizing factors like how actual mechanism will function, materials we will use, and solving any issues that we come across.

Kathryn McLaughlin

Class of 2019


Central Valley Regional


Friday was the first actual day of competition where the team made a lot of changes and improvements to Grace.  We were able to finish building our sub-system mechanisms, which include the reorientation, singulation, forklift, and the boxlift. Drive team was even able to briefly test out all of Grace’s functions before the actual matches started. But Friday wasn’t all work and no play.  A lot of our members had a lot of fun pit scouting the other teams and getting information about their robots. The safety glasses table was especially fun for the team because it gave everyone a chance to unwind and relax from the busy competition.  We ended our chaotic day with a dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, where everyone especially enjoyed the unlimited ice cream sundaes available at our liking.

Paulina Robles
Class of 2017

The first few matches on Saturday went perfectly, and most of the pit crew’s work was tidying up the pit. However, at lunchtime, one of Grace’s ropes snapped during drive practice, and we had approximately 15 minutes to replace it before the next match. I was put in charge of that, and we replaced the rope in time. It was stressful to be working with a clock ticking, but at the same time, it was an exhilarating experience that helped me learn a lot about the weak points on the robot and how to counteract them. Unfortunately, all of the ropes decided that they had had enough, and they snapped one by one. Even though we played a match with our main mechanism inoperable because we had not had enough time to fix broken part, the drive team was still able to score points by pulling totes from the center field. At the end of the day, we were ranked 33rd. To me, our ranking didn’t matter much because we were able to get a robot onto the field that could play the game in some way for every match.

Julia Hunt
Class of 2018

Sunday was the last day of our competition and while we may not have won we had gained a lot. From the start we knew we were at a disadvantage because our team simply did not have the resources that other teams had. However, what we did have was spirit and determination. Even though we consisted of a team where most of its members had two or less years of experience, we still managed to build a robot that functioned. The robot made it out to every match and could participate in every match. To top that off we had enormous support for the drive team. Both of these showed that we are a team that is capable and still growing. I can’t wait for the next competition so that we can show off our Jankster spirit!

Natasha Palamuttam
Class of 2015

FLL Tournament


I had so much fun and an overall amazing time at FLL. I loved all the team work that the Janksters showed, and I enjoyed seeing how involved the kids wanted to be. When I saw how excited the kids were to drive our robot or catch the ball, I had on the biggest smile. Some of the shifts that I worked included our concession stand, and our demo area. By the time that I went home each day, I was so happy, and felt accomplished. Even though FLL can be tiring because of the long shifts or focusing all your energy on the kids, I look forward to participating in FLL next year.

Stephanie Boyer
Class of 2017

Recently, the Janksters went to the FLL Tournament at Intel where we sold concessions, demonstrated our robots, and assisted with the matches. I worked at the coffee station (which was very popular for the adults) at first, then went on to be the time keeper for the competition. It was interesting to meet so many people at the coffee stand, and be able to see the competition up close as a timer. I also noticed that the children in the groups were overall very accepting with their score. For instance, I heard a young girl say something along the lines of, “It’s okay; we can fix it and do better next time!” My shift ended after a pizza lunch, but the competition took up the rest of the day and the next day as well. I believe that the FLL Tournament was a huge success, and it was fascinating to learn more about how the younger generation is getting involved in the STEM field with something we all know and love: Legos!

Gillian McGinnis
Class of 2018

Thursday Workshop

This was our first meeting where we met in the afternoon instead of right after school.  It was fun to eat dinner with the team and get taught by the mentors in the different workshops.  In my workshop, I went with Mr. Miller to Lowe’s to look at the different supplies and resources we can use while building the robot.  One thing we looked at were rivets, which would be an alternative way to put something together like the chassis.  I had so much fun wandering around the store with my friends and singing songs in the car on the way there and back.  Looking at the things we could possibly use to make our robot with and goofing off with friends from our team really got me pumped for the build season coming up!

Lauren Schirle
Class of 2017


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