Milpitas High School senior S’ven Morley loves to fly drones. Milpitas Xtreme Robotics Club President Kalino Ruiz enjoys combat robotics. Trojans’ junior Kathan Sheth relishes a good challenge, and Club Secretary Aisha Jaffrey appreciates the intra-club battles.
Every member of MXR eventually finds their niché within the official robotics club of Milpitas HS, and all of them savor the camaraderie amongst members.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college while in high school. I just knew it was something in engineering and MXR gave me the opportunity to explore them,” said MXR co-Vice President Nicholas Azpeitia. “It gave me an outlet and community of people I love. ...It’s really great to see everyone learning from and helping each other.”
MXR recently launched a free virtual App Development Class, which has attracted nearly 50 Milpitas Unified School District 6th through 8th grade students. Some will be the future leaders of MXR who will continue “to discover, create, or nurture a passion for what Silicon Valley is famed for—technology.”
“Many kids like using apps, so we thought why not teach them how to do it themselves,” said Kathan, who will help introduce middle schoolers to block coding, the basics of robotics, and other programming. “We will take a beginner’s approach to app development using ‘MIT App Inventor’ to create apps.”
In addition to this, MXR—which produced about 300 face shield braces on 3D printers that were distributed to front-line workers battling the pandemic—is in the early stages of creating a technology literacy workshop for students, teachers and parents.
“I’ve been involved in MXR for the past four years. I was introduced to it my freshman year, and instantly I got hooked,” said Kalino, whose interest in robots began as early as age 3. “I’ve just really always been into robots and engineering, so MXR was a real good fit for me. ...I’ve just grown to love the club.”
As lead for the Combat Robotics Team, Kalino passes along his knowledge of CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) to members. “We create custom-built robots designed to compete in gladiatorial arenas and competitions,” Kalino enthusiastically shared. The big competition comes annually in February with 15-pound bot battles. Right before the pandemic suspended in-person events, MXR battled high school and college teams in Rocklin, earning a $500 innovation award in the process.
From land to air, S’ven and the Drone Team—which took off last school year for the first time—compete in a different arena altogether. Limited by the pandemic restrictions, team members work daily on upgrading their drone and, every month or so, venture out for test flights at Baylands Park.
“It’s a mix of awesomeness and being scared because you don’t want to crash,” said S’ven of piloting a drone. “It’s fun to teach people how to fly and take it up in the air. We take turns flying around and teaching others.”
Kathan, who heads up MXR’s VEX Team, conducts online classes teaching CADD and programming to members. In this competitive robotics realm, teams are presented with a new challenge each year and work together to build a robot to best complete that challenge.
“This year, I am training new members to make sure we secure the next generation to take over VEX,” said Kathan, whose team qualified for the Worlds competition last year for the first time, “so we are looking forward to competing again this year.”
Another MXR competition team is FTC (First Tech Challenge), which tasks team members with building a robot to complete different obstacles. And when they are not competing against other school teams, MXR members team up to battle each other in intra-club robotics wars each year.
Learn even more about MXR at: https://mxrmhs.wixsite.com/robotics