Titanium Robotics Uses Uniqueness to Unify

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Titanium Robotics has developed into a bit of a juggernaut, so to speak, throughout its years, and its student leadership is taking the opportunity to reach out to the community at large.
With the student-run club being the well-oiled machine that it is, it’s an opportunity that comes easy to the enterprising San Marino High School students. The year-round routine for in-club activities is prolific, but team leaders said it’s been a while since the team really played with its community outreach tactics.
“This year, we really wanted to put ourselves out there,” said senior Joshua Duncan, the team’s business vice president this year. “In the past two-to-three years, we really haven’t advanced further (in outreach), so we’ve focused on innovative ways to get ourselves out there.”
So far, so good. The team rode in San Marino’s Fourth of July parade this year and more recently joined the SMHS homecoming parade, both firsts for the team.
“We’ve gone to two parades this year with the community,” said junior Olivia Cameron. “Our goal is to take part in a lot of things in the community.”
The girls on the team also spent October controlling the team’s T-shirt cannon, called [Ti]rone, at football games, launching pink T-shirts into the crowds in observation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For that month, the team also adopted pink-themed branding on its social media.
In September, the team participated in the Fall Classic for the Farm at Danny’s Farm, again utilizing their prized T-shirt cannon to entertain attendees at the event promoting advocacy for those with autism.
Additionally, several members of the team also are hard at work producing “Titanium,” an online comic series centered on artistic depictions of the team’s various robots, created and illustrated by seniors Jane Park and Peter Zhu. The first issue can be viewed on Titanium Robotics’ website, and the storyline will likely coincide with the competition the team prepares for each season.
“The first issue was around 10 pages,” Zhu explained. “The second, we’re planning to be around 15 or 20 pages. Around the competition, for example, we’ll be having a boss battle, sort of.”
The team has been busy with its primary purpose as well. It participated in the Beach Blitz preseason competition in October, which provided an opportunity to get the team’s newer members some experience handling the robots in a competitive situation.
“We’re trying to get them more involved with smaller projects around the room, as well,” Cameron said. “It is technically offseason, so we’re trying to get them acclimated to what things are like.”
The competitions, which usually have teams group up in a manner not dissimilar from picking dodgeball teams in gym class, also open up opportunities to meet students from other schools and clubs and gain some insight into how they approach their own robots.
“Through the scouting we do, we get to make a lot of friends just by talking to them about their robots,” said Madeline Haddad, a sophomore.
The diversity of interests among Titanium Robotics members has helped drive the outreach efforts.
Cameron, who seeks a career in mechanical, chemical or aerospace engineering, said she joined the team as a freshman after watching her older sister parlay her Titanium Robotics membership into an aerospace engineering education.
“I ended up really enjoying it,” she said. “It let me do something during the day when I didn’t have to think about school.”
The girl-oriented theme for October, called Robo for Breast Cancer, was a response to the infamous “Google Diversity Memo” that resulted in the firing of the company scientist who authored it. The memo drew public ire for its criticisms of Google’s diversity policies and the changes it suggested based on apparent biological inclinations.
“We really wanted to change that mentality,” Cameron explained. “This is our way of encouraging women to do robotics.”
Sophomore Kimia Hassibi, who does public relations for the team, joined after attending Club Day her freshman year. She said she’s targeting a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“I thought it was really impressive that they built from scratch and designed the mechanisms themselves,” Hassibi said.
Haddad, who also joined as a freshman and is endeavoring a STEM career, piggybacked off that point by saying she was looking forward to working on upgrades for the T-shirt cannon for the offseason: a custom drivetrain.
“We know that we can, and having a custom drivetrain will make our robot more efficient,” she explained.
Duncan, who also is active in drama, has coordinated the interaction with the greater community. He said he joined Titanium Robotics as a freshman hoping to flex his natural inclination toward mathematics.
Now, Duncan said the experience on the business side of the operation will only help him in his pursuit of a master’s degree in business administration.
“Robotics is really shaping what I want to do,” he said.
Zhu just joined the team this year, but the 12th-grader said a lot of his friends, including last year’s team president, have been on for years. In addition to the creative outlet of the comic series, he also works on the renderings and designs for new robots.
“I never was able to fit in much with them,” he said. “I was more of an artist.”
Cameron touted the team’s adaptive ability to integrate all of its members, regardless of backgrounds.
“No one is just interested in one thing,” she said. “You don’t come by a lot of organizations that are truly student-run. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what a wood screw is. We’ll teach you everything.”

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