Moorpark College Engineering Club looks to score a goal on the robotics playing field


The Moorpark College Engineering Club tests a larger robot in a replica of the 2022-2023 Vex Robotics arena, which the club purchased and has been able to use throughout the year in order to prepare for competitions. Photo credit: Gabriel Sanchez-Rivera

By Gabriel Sanchez-Rivera

The Moorpark College Engineering Club has been working on two robots that will be put to the test in a competition today, Dec. 3, at Mt. San Antonio College.

Club members are attending today’s competition with the goal of preparing for the Vex World Championships qualifier. The last time the team qualified for the Vex World Championships was in 2020.

Vex Robotics hosts annual robotics competitions worldwide that cater to different skill levels. Challenges are given out to competitors yearly and colleges have only months to build and code robots that will perform the task outlined in the challenge. In the past, tasks have ranged from stacking cubes on different poles to moving large boxes to a designated area. This year’s challenge is to have the robots shoot discs into a goal.

The club’s president, Avadi Seneviratne is a second-year computer science major at Moorpark College. Seneviratne gave a quick rundown on how the club is preparing for this competition.

“It’s a lot of troubleshooting to fix small things, either being coding tweaks or engineering tweaks, but we’ve all been working together to make sure that the robots are ready to compete,” Seneviratne said.

Seneviratne believes that the competition challenges get harder each year, but he said he is happy with the outcome of this year’s work.

“There are still some things to tweak and fix, but I am sure that we will go to this competition on the 3rd,” Seneviratne said.

Jonny Yousefi, a second-year engineering major, is a member of the Moorpark College Engineering Club. Yousefi discussed how the upcoming competition is an opportune time for team-bonding and improving the robots.

“I think going to the competition is a good choice for the team because it sort of acts as a team bonding exercise, and it allows us to try out different strategies to see what works and what doesn’t work with our robots,” Yousefi said.

In order to efficiently tackle the presented challenge, club members are divided into two groups: engineers and programmers. The engineers build the robots and work on resolving any physical issues in the robots’ performance. The programmers write the code that allows the robots to complete the tasks given by Vex.

Senevirante expressed that planning the designs for the robots is a difficult task in it of itself.

“It took about a month to really get started on building the robot since planning a design was challenging, but we’ve really gotten a lot done since, and having all sorts of people with different skills working together is an experience that I think it unique to this club,” Senevirante said.

The club has two robots prepared for competition, which is the college standard for Vex.

Senevirante showed one of the robots in action. After a few of its parts were switched out and some minor touch-ups were done, the pictured robot was able to pick up three discs and fire them into the goal.

The Moorpark College Engineering Club’s robot shoots a disc into a designated goal on Nov. 15, 2022 at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Gabriel Sanchez-Rivera

While there are still some technical issues with the robots, the club expressed an overall sense of readiness for today’s competition.

The club may also be ready to take on engineering challenges outside of the competitive playing field. According to Yousefi, the club not only gives students a sense of community, but also helps prepare them for the real world.

“I really like how the club allows members to meet and make friends with others who have similar interests,” Yousefi said. “I also like how it allows us to apply what we learned in classes to real-world situations.”

Moorpark College’s engineering club meets in PS-222 at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and optionally on Thursdays. The club is currently looking for students to operate the robots. Interested students can attend the club’s meetings to learn more about this opportunity.