Robotics Club abounds with ambition

In the Applied Technology building on the west side of campus, some of Pierce’s brilliant minds have been busy working together in the field of robotics.

The Robotics Club has been busy in their lab, putting together impressive creations while giving its members a good foundation to build off of for science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.)-oriented students.

Although the main focus is to build and learn about robotics, some members take it to the next step and compete in robotics competitions.

One of the most prevalent competitions are the ones that involve VEX Robotics Design System.

“VEX is great because there is a low barrier for entry when you want start engineering and all the parts are available and it’s really easy to take concepts to reality.” said club president Eldon Schoop.

Electrical engineering student Ryan Collins likens VEX to building Legos.

“You put together the pieces but it’s not exactly challenging,” he said.

The team has done well in the recent college VEX competition, scrimmaging other local college teams, according to Schoop.

Club member Yiran “Yao” Tong, a mechanical engineering student, has been at the forefront as the lead engineer for the robots that have been used in the competitions.

According to Tong and Collins, the members typically work on their own projects but for something like the competitions they work together to brainstorm designs that meet the criteria for the competition.

The club is looking for large support from the school and outside funding from private companies to help them take on other projects in S.T.E.M. fields and move onto the next level.

Schoop said that they already have ambitious ideas brewing like working on autonomous drones, a go-cart that would run on renewable energy, and even starting their own college-level robotics competition.

One of the clubs most ambitious goals is to partake in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s yearly rover competition.

Club vice president Salamat Ali-Reza mentioned that if selected, the team will be funded by NASA to build the rover the club designed and run it through live simulations, controlling the robot from Pierce College through the Internet.

“Aside from [everything] we all try to make an effort to volunteer at high school-level competitions as well.” said Schoop.

The Robotics Club was featured in the Daily News as well as Mercury News earlier this year for hosting its first ever VEX tournament that helped introduce high school and middle school students to new career choices.

The club meets Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m.

For more information, you may reach the club at their personal website,, or their Facebook page: Pierce Robotics Club.