Senior builds robots outside of school


Madeline Nguyen

Jones works on the scoring mechanism on this team’s robot before the FTC State Championships on March 17.

On his robotics team, senior Evan Jones holds many titles. These include “Minister of Propaganda” because of his involvement in the team’s engineering notebook and “Head of Espionage” because of his role as a scouter at their competitions.

Jones is on a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team. This robotics program challenges students to engineer robots that compete with other teams in a themed game that changes every season.  This season’s theme is Rover Ruckus, where teams are build and program robots that detect small yellow cubes and white balls, moving them into different areas on the game field.

Unlike many other robotics students, Jones participates in a community robotics club called Swerve Robotics rather than a school club. Within this community club, there are three FTC teams. Jones is a member of team 8923, Perpetual Velocity.

On his team, Jones primarily works on robot hardware, helping with machining parts, fabrication and design. He also works on his team’s engineering notebook and scouts other teams at the competition.

This season, 8923 has advanced to the Washington State Championships from second place in the robot game at their Inter-League competition. Jones said that one factor contributing to 8923’s success this season is their inclusive environment.

“My favorite part of 8923 is the people involved,” Jones said. “We’re a really close group, and  it’s great to be in an environment where everyone else also cares about the outcome.”

Jones said that he prefers the robotics community over his experience with other extra-curriculars, such as team sports.

“In soccer, when one team wins, and there are things like trash talking and fouling involved. You never see that in FIRST,” Jones said.

When Jones started his first season of robotics last year, he said he felt nervous about his lack of engineering experience.

“Over time, with help from my teammates and mentors, I was able to do a lot of things that I wasn’t able to do before,” Jones said.

Other than promoting student learning, Jones said his team likes to have fun in the process. Due to mentor support, Jones said FTC made him a more experienced engineer. He said that his team works together well because of their close friendship.

“As a team, we make it really fun to show up to every meeting. We can joke around while still being able to work productively and be successful in our competitions.”

Jones also said his team enjoys working together as much as their inside jokes.

“Teamwork is the aspect of our team that we’re most proud of. We delegate tasks, make sure everything gets done, and we all have a good time doing it,” Jones said. “That’s the fun part of robotics.”