• Sept. 28, 2023

    USCHS students share their love of robotics with area youth

    Robotics workshopA group of Upper St. Clair High School students spent part of their summer sharing their love of robotics with more than 200 area youth. The students were all members of Botsburgh 11792, a competitive USC Robotics team.

    In July, Botsburgh offered a robotics workshop for South Hills area elementary and middle school students at Prospect Park in Whitehall. Volunteers included USCHS juniors Bryan Deep, Cadence Forney, Harshvardhan Mali, Komel Nulwala and Ben Ross; sophomores Aadhi Bharath, Zahra Hossain and Medha Misra; and freshmen Ishaan Gupta and Josh Mukherjee.

    The program was in partnership with the South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM), which provides support and services to families in need. Held over a four-day period, each day focused on a particular age group: Day 1, grades 1-2; Day 2 grades 3-4; Day 3, grade 5; and Day 4, grades 6-8.

    The team is committed to community service and has set a goal to spread interest in robotics to more than 2,000 children during the 2023-24 school year. SHIM was a natural partner.

    “We wanted to ensure that we were reaching out to children who are not exposed to robotics on a regular basis and kids whom we can help the most,” Nikhita Thakuria, USCHS junior and Botsburgh team member, said. “As fun as these events are, they can also often serve as a turning point for various children.”

    During the SHIM robotics workshop, participants were led by Botsburgh’s members in groups to engineer robotic animals using cardboard boxes and Hummingbird Kits. The children learned what the engineering process is and how to execute their ideas. They used block coding to program movement using sensors and motors.

    “We connected with over 120 kids from over a dozen countries, many of whom had never seen a robot before,” Komel said.

    Some of the campers were English language learners and often used Google Translate to more effectively share their ideas and contribute.

    Members of the Botsburgh robotics team hope events like the robotics workshop will further spark interest in robotics, especially for children who may not have much STEM experience. They remain committed to making a positive impact in the community.

    For the last two summers, the BotsBurgh robotics team has helped to host a week-long Ingenuity Camp. In addition, team members have offered several Robotic Petting Zoo events at various local libraries and have worked with the Boy Scouts of America. Team members also serve as mentors to other middle and high school teams within USC Robotics.

    BotsBurgh competes in FIRST Tech Challenge, which challenges students to build a robot to complete specific tasks.

    “Last year we competed in a high-speed competitive obstacle course against other robots,” Nikhita explained. “We had to race strategically, placing cones to make patterns against the clock. We had two minutes to score as many points as possible, both with only coding, autonomous, and then driving the robot.”

    Botsburgh’s fall season is just getting underway. The first competition is set for December. The 2023-24 team is comprised of juniors Bryan Deep, Cadence Forney, Liam Moriarty, Komel Nulwala, Ben Ross and Nikhita Thakuria; sophomores Zahra Hossain and Medha Mishra; and freshmen Ishaan Gupta, Siddharth Kumar, Josh Mukherjee, and Harish Rajaganapathy.

    The USC Robotics Club will host two qualifier events on Feb. 24-25, 2024, at Upper St. Clair High School. Catch the action as Botsburgh, as well as the other three USC FTC robotics teams, compete against other area robotics teams. To learn more about USC Robotics, visit www.uscrobotics.org.