01000010 01100101 01101000 0110… (Behind the Scenes of First Tech Challenge)


Angie Jaramillo, Contributor

Weird things are happening in Room 776. Tucked away on the third floor of the 700 building, Room 776 full of 3D printers, loose wires, leftover parts and geeky students. It’s also where the South Broward High school engineering club meets to share their passion for robotics and bring it to life. 

 Part of the Engineering club is known as F.T.C which is “code” for First Tech Challenge. Students are divided into teams based on their experience as well as their personal chemistry, teams are not assigned but usually students new to the club are grouped together.  

SBHS senior Simon Weizman has been in robotics since tenth grade and ever since, he has been working with the same group of students 

“We know each other,” said Weizman. “We can work well so we are gonna stick ourselves together and make this a great thing.”

Each individual team member has a different job to and needs to know the basics of robotics and have the ability to create a robot. In order to create their team’s robot, there has to be a captain, coach and members who specialize in hardware and software. Hardware is the tools, machinery, and other durable equipment that’s part of the robot. Software is the programs and other operating information used by a cellphone.

Mr. Joseph Kelly is the clubs sponsor, as well as a teacher of multiple robotics and engineering classes at South Broward High school. He was a United States Army Engineer and he also has a degree in Computer Science. He is very passionate about engineering and was self-taught, he always sees himself in his students and remind him of his younger self. 

“When I was a kid we used to build stuff all the time like build little models or build before the robotics stuff it was likeyou know we had models and we also had like other projects to build,” said Mr. Kelly. 

The F.T.C club participates in F.T.C competitions two to three times each year. Each team’s robot have to complete different task to get to the next round. This year, the F.TC club was represented by a program which was sponsored by Star Wars, the Lego blocks the robots pick up show an image from Star Wars which the robots detect.

David Mangru, 16 year old junior at SBHS, also student member of the F.T.C club 

“With this mechanism right here (pointing towards their robot’s claw), I’m the one that’s actually controlling the arm, My other teammate Sebastian is the one controlling where the robot goes,” said Mangru. 

There are different tasks and studies to engineering other than robotics.  

“People think robotics is mostly based off of programming and things created on the computer, and you see the results on the screen but it’s so much more than that, in robotics you build a machine to form a function,” said Mr. Kelly.