Robotics rolls in, racks up wins

Among the myriad opportunities that Harvard-Westlake offers, the robotics program stands tall. Though often overlooked by athletics and arts, the middle school team has strongly reflected the Harvard-Westlake mission statement with purpose beyond ourselves.
Science teacher Tripp Reed has instructed the HWMS robotics team for the past two years. His growing passion for robotics was sparked by his students’ enthusiasm towards creatively researching and innovating technology. He has devoted his time at HW to creating a space for students to further explore their interests in mechanics and beyond.
Reed finds purpose in the process behind robotics and the valuable morals that it offers. He aims for students to take these lessons with them in their futures, as well.
“Robotics teaches kids that making mistakes and solving problems is not a bad thing. Failure is good, it means you are trying and pushing yourself. It’s so important to always keep trying new things.” Reed said. “That lesson is valuable and can be used anywhere in life.”
The team gathers Monday through Thursday after school to practice and prepare for upcoming events. This is a testament to the commitment of Reed and robotics students. Throughout the year, students participate in various tournaments, both in and out of state. In 2021, the team traveled to Dallas, Texas for the VEX Robotics World Championship where 2,000 teams from over 40 countries were represented.
Reed shares that the Dallas tournament was a rewarding experience.
“It was a really special moment to see that what we’re building is really gaining traction. The students were really excited about the opportunities that robotics can provide.” Reed said.
Reed shared that an important aspect of the program is its rapid growth. In the span of one year, the team has nearly doubled in size, an incredible feat.
“It’s exciting to see the number of students that are participating and getting involved in robotics.”
The Upper School continues to grow, as well, and recently adopted the First Robotics Competition (FRC) program which diversifies the endless possibilities that robotics offers. Students are given the resources to build robots that are three times the usual size, and they are taught manufacturing techniques such as creating their own parts from scratch. This makes the options limitless with minimal constraints to creativity.
Reed aims to unify the upper school and middle school programs based on their shared interests. However, geography and busy upper school schedules pose a challenge. Tournaments hosted by Harvard-Westlake are an all day affair and require intensive training.
Upper school robotics teacher Andrew Theiss and Reed have been working to devise a plan to further unite both campuses.
“Since the kids at the two campuses have a shared passion, my hope is that they are able to unify more as the program continues to grow.”
Reed sees the future of technology in the hands of the students and their endless ingenuity.
“The concept of being able to take something in your head and make it real, that’s what entrepreneurs do, that’s what makes the world go around.” Reed said. “I am proud that we are creating an environment where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and trying new things that go beyond what they thought they were capable of.”