Tag Archives: FIRST



By Yashna Bansal ‘17

Originally posted on NDSJ

Notre Dame’s Robotics Team, the Janksters, recently hosted their 4th Annual Boot Camp. Using this four day camp as an opportunity to recruit new students and spread more awareness about STEAM, the Janksters created and led workshops revolving around the team’s different aspects–mechanics, electronics, programming, and business.

Campers gained various technical skills through student-led workshops. On Monday and Tuesday, the attendees rotated through four different workshops, gaining basic skills in wiring and programming an Arduino, using power tools such as saws and drills, CADing (Computer Aided Design) and 3D Printing keychains, and designing personalized buttons on Adobe Illustrator. Wednesday and Thursday, the campers were able to take a tour of the TechShop (which the team uses throughout the year to manufacture different pieces for various projects and the robot), drive and learn more about the robot, work in teams to complete a Rube Goldberg challenge, and explore one of the Monday and Tuesday workshops more in depth.

The campers gained a lot more than just new technical skills. Robotics Boot Camp provided an opportunity for the incoming Notre Dame students to interact with one another and create friendships before the school year even began. Through the different group activities and workshops, the Janksters and other students created a bond that will carry through with the group of students who join the robotics team this year.

Beyond the impact this camp had on the campers, the Janksters who helped lead and facilitate everything grew as well. Jayel Ambat (‘19) reflected, “As a sophomore, I still have a fresh memory of my experience in Boot Camp last year” which played a huge part in her decision to join the robotics team. She talked about how different it was for her to go from being a camper with no prior robotics experience to being one of the Janksters knowledgeable enough to lead a workshop. And she wasn’t the only Jankster who learned from the experience of teaching and bonding with the incoming freshmen and other students that attended the Robotics Boot Camp.

Silicon Valley Regional (SVR)


Written by Lara Fernandes ‘18

Originally published on NDSJ

The Janksters recently competed at the FIRST Silicon Valley Regional robotics competition at San Jose State University. This was their second competition of the 2016 season.

On Thursday morning, the San Jose State Event Center was officially opened for all the robotics teams to kick off the three fun and exciting days of competition. The girls rushed into the Event Center, ready to start their day. Thursday was a day for the girls to finalize changes to the robot before the actual matches. While some of the girls were working on our robot, the other girls were networking with the other robotics teams at the competition, asking them about their robot and teams. There were also some housekeeping things that needed to be taken care of before the official days of competition started. The team passed out helpful downtown guides and our giveaways to the other teams. Meanwhile, in our pit, the girls were finishing up the robot, and getting it inspected so that the team could compete in the matches the following day.

Early Friday morning, the girls crowded around the doors, bracing the cold and rain to get the best seats. Matches officially started that day and the team wanted to be right in the center, cheering on their robot, Cierra. There were some communication issues with the robot the girls faced but they reached out to other FRC teams for help and were able to work through the problems. Cierra performed well in the first day of matches and the team worked hard in the pits and the stands whether it was working on the robot, networking with other teams, scouting during matches or just showing ND spirit.

The Janksters held a team social at Notre Dame later on Friday as an opportunity to interact with other teams. Team 1868 (Space Cookies), Team 5089 (Robo-Nerds), Team 5940 (B.R.E.A.D.), Team 6036 (Terrace Tech) and Team 5655 from Turkey (Kelrot) were invited to spend some time with the Janksters and have fun with each other. There was plenty of food, laughter, dancing and even pool noodles to create a wonderful end to the first day of competition. “Talking to other teams was pretty fun, getting to know them and what they did, at the Team Social” said Paulina Robles ‘17.

The Janksters came back on Saturday with renewed energy and were prepared to face another day of competition. The team worked hard to problem-solve the issues with communication they had faced on day one and all of their effort payed off. In the team’s second to last match, Cierra exceeded expectations when it passed through a defense during autonomous, picked up a ball, and the scaling mechanism worked. There was a chorus of cheers and a flurry of red pom-poms, excitement flooding the stands when our robot scaled the tower. “There was one match that we did really well in and the scaling mechanism completely worked, we were completely over the line and we got the points for it. I was really happy because that was the first time it was successful and it showed that Scaling’s work had really paid off.” said Miyo Imai ‘18. The team did not advance to eliminations, but knowing that we had done our best and our robot had performed well on the field was a victory in itself.

As the awards ceremony of the Silicon Valley Regional began, our team waited for the winner of the Spirit Award to be called. When the announcer called out “Team 1967, the Janksters” there was first a moment of surprised silence and then an eruption of cheering. The girls ran onto the field, received the award and high-fived all of the judges. We had been recognized for our spirit from overflowing enthusiasm to our bright red bows.

This season was a large step forward for the Janksters with receiving with the Imagery and Safety Awards at Madera, the Spirit Award, and having Yashna Bansal ‘17 recognized as a Dean’s List finalist by FIRST Robotics. The team is continuing to grow and improve as the years go by. “I remember in my freshman year, the design we had for the robot was relatively simple, but each year I’ve seen the design grow more and more complicated until finally other teams are coming to us to learn what we did. We stand out more, not just in terms of our robot design but in terms of our branding.” said Tamara Kawa ‘16.

CalGames 2015



By Tamara Kawa, Class of 2016

On October 2-3, the Notre Dame Robotics Team attended CalGames, an annual off season competition held in the Bay Area. A replay of the 2015 FRC game, Recycle Rush, CalGames gave the Janksters an opportunity to improve their 2015 robot and relive their last season, while also introducing their newest members to the FIRST Robotics experience. The Janksters spent several weeks preparing for this event, repairing the robot’s mechanisms, programming new functions, and training the robot’s drivers until, finally, October 2 arrived. The Janksters could hardly wait to get back into action.

On Friday, Team 1967 arrived at Lynbrook High School and set up their pit alongside 35 other FRC teams, eager for the competition to begin. From Friday evening to Saturday afternoon, the Janksters competed against other teams to see who could stack the most gray totes and recycling containers in two minutes. The hours of robot repairs started to pay off; Emma Ryan, ‘18, noted that “It’s amazing how fixing some little things made the robot much better…our point average [was] way better than at some of our regionals.” By Saturday, Team 1967 had risen to 8th place – an all-time high for this season! – and progressed into playoffs. With Team 1868 (the Space Cookies) and Team 1072 (Harker Robotics) on their alliance, the Janksters blazed through the matches, making it to quarterfinals before being eliminated. Despite not winning, the Janksters couldn’t have been more proud of their robot and their hard work.

Then, the Janksters received a surprise – their mentor, Alvin Cheng, received recognition as “Volunteer of the Year”! One of the longest-standing mentors, Alvin is one of the team’s biggest supporters and motivators, and the students see him as a big brother. To all the students on Team 1967, Alvin is a hero who deserves recognition within the community. “Alvin getting this type of recognition is long overdue” said Tamara Kawa, ‘16, “because he’s been with our team almost since the beginning. Actually, he should get ‘Volunteer of the Decade,’ because that’s how long he’s been with us!”

By the end of the competition, everyone on Team 1967 had been able to try something new. Many of the returning students had taken on new responsibilities, such as drive team or teaching students. Nikita Jagdish, ‘18, tried drive team out, reflecting that “when I first joined robotics last year, I had no interest in joining, but now I’m proud of myself for trying it out.” The rookies, for their part, found themselves in an entirely new world, learning about game strategy, engineering and business, and how to dance the Cupid Shuffle. As Tani Pham, ‘19, said “I’m really tired, but it’s a good type of tired…I feel accomplished today.” No one left CalGames without a new story to tell, and the Janksters eagerly wait to see what the 2016 season has in store.


Spotlight Week


The Janksters had a great Spotlight Week this year at Notre Dame High School where, they highlighted the various aspects of Robotics. We threw different, fun events each day of the week before CalGames in order to get students excited about the upcoming competition and Grace’s progress.

On Monday, we set up in our school’s very own Pardini park to drive VEX robots and drew raffle prizes for Notre Dame’s Magazine Drive. The students and even teachers came to drive the robots and learn more about them. 

Tuesday was the day that the Janksters took the previous activity a step up by allowing others to drive the 2015 robot, Grace. This was a unique opportunity, since it would be perhaps the last time the school’s students would see Grace up close. 

On Thursday, we had a fun programming activity, in which students gathered around to watch teachers decorate cookies by following instructions/code given to them. Since the instructions were so vague, the teachers could put their own spin on it, allowing an hilarious lesson about the importance of being specific while programming our robots. 

Finally, Friday arrived! A fun pep rally was planned to end our spotlight week on exciting terms in which they were thrilled for the upcoming CalGames. The Janksters, followed by other energetic students in the school, danced along to music typically in our competitions such as Cupid Shuffle and Cha-cha slide. This event allowed us to give a short preview of the excitement in CalGames and talk to the students, educating them more about the competition. 

All in all, we had a blast during Spotlight Week and cannot wait till next year!

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Boot Camp

Credits to Alvin
By Tiffany Ta, Class of 2017
From August 10-13, the Janksters held their third annual Boot Camp, during which they helped run various workshops and activities to teach incoming freshman, sophomores, and juniors about all of the aspects of robotics, from build season to the team cultures.
From the moment they  stepped in, the new campers were welcomed by the Janksters, helping warm them up with many icebreakers, such Never Have I Ever and even card games. Combined with lunches together and other fun activities, it was no surprise that the campers felt quite at home.
On the first two days, campers were divided into three groups and participated in a workshop rotation, in which each group would shift between workshops teaching marketing, tool use, Arduino, and CAD. From these workshops, the campers learned more about each aspect of what the various committees work on and discovered what interests they had.
The third and fourth days, however, were quite different. In the mornings, the campers would be split into two groups , attending either a workshop on driving, which explained the build season further in detail and allowed the campers to interact with the robot, or Rube Goldberg, where campers would design machines to release a balloon. In the afternoon, the campers could pick workshops that they enjoyed during the first two days and do even more activities in their workshop of choice.
The Janksters were more than happy to see these campers grow and develop their knowledge about robotics, and most of them confirmed that they were planning to join the team as future Janksters!


Janky POVS:

Boot Camp was a blast! This was my second year helping facilitate the workshops and activities, and I think the overall energy we got from the campers was great. My favorite part was when we went Downtown for lunch on Wednesday, because I was able to see who I’d get along with since they liked the same food as me (kidding), and we were able to relax and have some great conversations while eating on the grass in San Jose State. Most of the students who attended boot camp seemed to have a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see most of them during our robotics meetings this following year.

— Yashna Bansal

Class of 2017

Boot Camp is officially 3 years old! This year, it was full of energetic campers who were engaged and excited to learn. I look forward to seeing some of them come join this season! I got the opportunity to teach Arduino for the second year. During one of the free-choice sessions, I had one of the most rewarding experiences. There was a girl who struggled with understanding the logic behind code I was teaching her. After half an hour of trying countless methods and writing up plenty of notes, we finally figured it out together. Code and the logic behind is hard to grasp for those not familiar with it. To be able to teach it and know she understood was an amazing feeling!

— Minh-Chau Doan

Class of 2017



10 Year Anniversary


By Gillian McGinnis, Class of 2018

On Saturday, August 8, Team 1967 The Janksters celebrated their 10 year anniversary at Notre Dame High School with a gathering of alumnae, mentors, and memorabilia from past years. Originally formed in 2006, our school’s robotics team has worked hard to  not only use fun and creative ideas to build robots, but also to build the confidence of girls interested in STEAM.

The team set up ten tables display our accomplishments and stories for their corresponding year. This included photos, newspaper articles, pieces of the robots, display boards, and more to represent the “evolution” of the Janksters, starting simply as a small team of 7 members in 2006 with the creation of a logo in 2008, and now we are a size of over forty girls in 2015.

As the Learning Commons filled with people, it also filled with smiles, laughter, and anecdotes of their interactions on or with the team. Multiple alums told their stories of the origins of team traditions (such as how to name the robot), as well as silly interactions that happened during build season.

All in all, it was a wonderful commemoration that reminded the Janksters of our roots as a team and brought us back together to celebrate all of our hard work and accomplishments.