Photo by Raymond Link ’20 | Members of the robotics team gather to work on their most recent remote-controlled robot.
Eric Lindholm ’19
The Brophy Robotics team has become a staple figure on campus, providing fun at football games with their T-shirt shooting robot and also taking great strides in their technology, leadership, and investment for the future.
For Senior leader Richie Hernandez ’19, his love for robotics started at a young age. “I began in Middle School through my local Salvation Army Center and it was actually a program called First Lego League,” Hernandez said.
Many of us have had experience playing with legos as child, and “because [Ritchie] had already liked Legos, [his] mom had signed me up for the class, Hernandez said.“And through the class I found out that I actually really liked doing this whole engineering thing,” said Hernandez.
Senior Brandon Ortega ’19 who also took part of the First Lego League is one the team’s leaders. “We always try to pass on the torch of people being able to take over when we graduate,” Ortega said.
Acknowledging the gap with few Juniors in the program ready to take the reigns next year, “I’d say that our main goal is being able to keep the knowledge going in robotics,” said Ortega.
Mr. Andy Mazzolini is a Chemistry teacher and has been the Brophy Robotics coach for eleven years. “They have a lot to do, and a lot of times they just need organization,” Mr. Mazzolini said. “That’s where I come in. I help them formulate a plan to get things done because that’s not always their strong point,” said Mr. Mazzolini.
Traditionally, Robotics is seen as an activity dominated by STEM thinking students that perform very well in math, coding and physics. However, Hernandez emphasizes that robotics is for everyone. “I kind of work more behind the scenes – like planning this retreat that’s coming up, or outreach and football games,” Hernandez said.
With all the Robotics team’s success and well-funded facilities, they have given a tremendous amount of knowledge, time, and resources back to the community.
Ortega attended Loyola Academy and participated for a year in the Robotics Program where Brophy students mentored him and the other young scholars, so he and Hernandez decided to give back to the Loyola Robotics Program in a similar way. “Since my 6th grade there they had Brophy guys come over to mentor us for FLL,” Ortega said.
“During my sophomore year we picked it back up” said Ortega, and “I went there and invited Ritchie along with me, to go mentor the team,” said Ortega.
Ms. Julia Pierre is the Loyola Academy coding teacher and has bolstered the Loyola robotics program by procuring more program funding every year.
“They get new stuff every year,” Hernandez said, and “the funding just continues, as long as the kids want to learn.”
The Brophy team’s proclivity to help others may be attributed to their strong adherence to the collaborative culture of robotics. “There’s a saying in robotics. It’s called gracious professionalism,” Mr. Mazzolini said.
“That pretty much means that you help any team that needs help in any way we can,” Mr. Mazzolini said. For example, if another team’s motor breaks, the Brophy team would spot them a motor if they had an extra one on hand, not compromising innovation and good ideas for the sake of competition.
This collaborative and helpful spirit extends beyond competitions. “Whether it be 3-D printing, laser cutting – we have opportunities and we have machines that we actually share with other teams who will need it,” Hernandez said.
“So, for example, Phoenix Coding Academy down the street, we have a connection with them where, for example, they might need something industrially reprinted,” said Hernandez.
The Brophy Robotics Team has a unique edge that many other schools cannot say they have. “One of the major things we try to do is to, as much as possible, have the students design and build it themselves completely,” Mr. Mazzolini said.
“They work on designing the robot and then implement it. It’s definitely a student built and student run,” said Mr. Mazzolini.
With the program operating on full gears, the Brophy Robotic’s Team is poised to roll into another successful year both in competitions and creative innovations.