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Spartan Scoop

Spartan Scoop

Inform · Connect · Entertain

Spartan Scoop


This year’s updates and information on the Missoula Robotics Team
Tony Hemenway
2022 robot named Hubert

The Missoula Robotics team is back for another year with new ideas and plans for build season. They are based in the old administrative building and include students from Sentinel, Hellgate, and Big Sky. During the past 6 months, the student leads came together to create improved organization and training plans in the hope for more retention and engagement by new students. 

The team is comprised of over 40 members who are tasked with building a robot designed for various tasks each year such as climbing bars, shooting basketballs, and picking up pieces from the ground. With each new year  FIRST( the organization that sets up and organizes all of the robotics teams and competitions,  and is a worldwide organization with over 3,225 teams around the globe) unveils the object of the game and gives teams their constraints. 

And it worked. There are new students in all the subsections of the team: build, business, and programming. 

The team is organized under two student leads: James Reynolds and Abubakr Nazirev who are both juniors at Sentinel. They have been putting in work to structure the team in an efficient and effective way to give back what they have gained from the team. Working to make sure that students are on task and learning in the best way they can, James is especially proud of the mentors of the team who excel in teaching the students life skills and helping them “apply these skills” along the way.

Robotics teaches people how to apply their “knowledge in a collaborative environment in order to create innovative solutions to problems presented” and become future leaders.

— Reynolds


The build team is a subteam tasked with the fabrication and design of the robot as well as field construction. Veteran team members such as Elizabeth Franzon, who is a junior at Sentinel and head of safety and construction, have been coming up with easy projects to teach the new students key skills for the build season. 

Some of these projects include replacing parts on old robots, building common mechanisms, and learning the basics of woodwork. They’ve moved all of their tools into their new space (including the CNC router) and taken inventory of everything with the help of Eli Henderson the inventory manager who is also a junior at Sentinel. 

When asked about how the year has started off Franzon said, “We have a really dedicated group of new students this year. They’ve all been super involved and I’m really excited to see how this year plays out! I think we’ll do great.”  

When asked, Jasmine Khang (who is a freshman at Sentinel) said that so far robotics is a friendly place where it is easy to talk to people and ask questions. Projects like dismantling the 2022 robot (Hubert) and designing a new t-shirt cannon robot have been the main highlights so far to Jasmine, and she is hopeful for this year’s build season. 

The 2023 season kickoff for robotics is on January 7th, 2024 when the challenge and rules will be announced; from there, the team will have no more than 6 weeks to design, build, and program a fully functioning robot. Their competitions land on week 3 and week 5 of build (in Las Vegas and California; as of right now and the team is buzzing with excitement to get started. 


The programmers are responsible for turning a hunk of flashy metal into a fully functioning robot. Andrew Wilson, who is a senior at Sentinel has been busy getting ready for the season. He is currently migrating/ moving their swerve library and teaching the new students how to code with online resources like codingbat. So far this year, the students “seem interested, which is better than last year when they all quit” before the year had even started. He touched on the difficulty of teaching such complex content, but that they are slowly making progress. 

Programming is infamous for being the most difficult subteam to join and fit into with its steep learning curve… but the students are determined to make it in record time. One of these new students is Tanner Grutch, who is a junior at Sentinel. He started learning code this year but says that his “transition into programming has gone well” and that he is becoming more confident in his knowledge of Javascript (the programming language used to program our robot).


The business team has been working towards the team fundraising goal of $70,000 and as of 10/30/23, they are already a quarter of the way there. That is quicker and more efficient fundraising then they have ever had. Riley Dube, Junior at Bigsky and business Co-Lead has been helping to smoothly integrate the new students and prove to them that it’s “not that scary to raise money” and help them be productive. Senior Grace Karlovich who is a student at Sentinel gave the subteam the slogan “we put the fun in fundraiser”. And they have. 

Sentinel sophomore Emad Huthaily is working to fundraise money to support the team has stated that “[he] feels like [he’s] enjoying robotics a lot because [he] can define and grasp new skills” and gain professional experience in an environment where he can learn lifelong skills for his future career. 

The business team has been busy since the end of last school year writing grants, calling businesses, setting up communication lines with professionals, and much more. Returning team members like Dube say that the biggest obstacle to get around is often getting shy robotics members to gain the courage to make phone calls. 


The Robotics team’s main goal this year is to qualify for the world championship by winning one of their two regional competitions or by winning the impact award which focuses on community service and upholding FIRST values such as, gracious professionalism, teamwork, innovation, and cooperation. 

The international level contains teams from over 22 countries and is seen as the biggest goal and highest level of success a team can achieve. In order to improve their chances they have been looking for chances to help out in the Missoula community and learn valuable skills from other teams. 

They helped start a team earlier this year, mentored a lego league team (FLL) of middle schoolers interested in STEM, and have been volunteering around Missoula for community activities. 

The Robotics team will continue to need money used for travling to competitions and buying building materials. They have a gofundme page linked on their website as well as a mailing address for any interested donors. Adults interested in mentoring and students looking to join are also always encouraged to email the team at [email protected] to come visit the space and learn more about the team and what they do.

About the Contributors
Lydia Becker
Lydia Becker, Reporter
Tony Hemenway
Tony Hemenway, Photographer
"How can the Earth be flat if my life is constantly going downhill?" -Tony Hemenway