Bring on the Bots

West Bloomfield High School’s Robotics Club Advisors and Captain share why students should join the Robotics Club

Bring on the Bots

West Bloomfield High School (WBHS) hosts over 20 clubs and one of these clubs is the Robotics Club; Twelve years ago, in 2002, WBHS introduced Robotics as one of the clubs students could participate in. The club’s advisors are Mr. Francis Muylaert and Mrs. Suzanne Loebl, and the team captain is Alexis Ball (Grade 11).

Muylaert, a WBHS  teacher, has taught and advised the Robotics Club at WBHS for ten years. He began advising the Robotics Club because, “The school had just started the Robotics Club a year or two before I was hired and I was asked if I would like to be a part of it during my first year here. I agreed and have been sponsoring it ever since.”

Loebl, a WBHS parent, has advised the Robotics Club for two years. She began advising the Robotics Club because of, “My son [Zachary Loebl (WBHS alumni, Class of 2014)], when he came to West Bloomfield he didn’t know many people – as he came to the school in his junior year. I knew he liked putting together Legos, so I told Mr. Muylaert to come [take] my son. He came down to the book room and grabbed Zachary. The next day Zachary went again and stayed till the end of robotics. He got involved so I got involved in robotics.”

Ball has been in Robotics for three years, but this is her first year as captain. Ball decided to become captain because “I like to take charge when things aren’t going smoothly and after seeing how the team was going I wanted to help out.” Ball is an African-American young woman and believes her race and sex  positively contribute to the Robotics Club because “I’m a minority and a female so it’s nice to give different points of view for people.”

The advisors and team captain all have goals for this year. Muylaert’s is “to grow the club and provide a fun, educational experience for our members and that will allow them to see many of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles in action. The club allows our members to actually work with materials and concepts in a real life way. For a majority of our members this makes many of the concepts learned in their text books, and lectured about by their teachers, actually come to life. They can see why the concepts are important and how they’re put into practical use in everyday life.” Loebl’s goal is “ to be in the top ten ten teams so that we can pick alliances, not be picked.” Ball’s goal is “To help our team win more awards, make our team more diverse and recruit students of more grades, backgrounds, etc.”

To accomplish their goals, Loebl states that, “Students need to think outside of the box and the ordinary when they build a robot. they see a video for build a robot in five hours and think that they can just do that . I want them to realize that it is about more than the robot. It’s about having people to design posters, t-shirts, buttons, and giveaways; We also build a field to work and practice with. We have people to keep up our website; There are skilled writers who write to large companies asking for donations; Robotics is a diverse body of students coming together with a goal.” Muylaert adds, “To accomplish our goal we need to get the word out to our student population and get students to just come in to room 478 after school to see what is going on. Though we do a lot of recruiting during the school year and some of the summer, you really don’t get a good idea of what is going on in the club unless you actually visit.”

The Robotics Club is still open to all WBHS students. Robotics is more than just building a robot– all skills and talents are needed. Any students interested can stop by after school in Room 478 and see the amazing things the Robotics Club does during the school year.