The Berkeley High School Development Group has made a six thousand dollar donation to Team Berkelium, the BHS robotics team, funding a CNC router. This has helped the robotics team elevate their creations, and allowed students to continue furthering their knowledge of engineering, according to Dirk Wright, faculty advisor to the team.
James Underwood, a senior in Academic Choice (AC), managed the fabrication of the robots last year. He described the function of a CNC router, as well as the opportunities it opens for students.
“A CNC router is a tool that if you give it a computer file, it will cut out what’s in that file,” Underwood said. “It has allowed us to train a bunch of new students on industry standard tools that they would use if they then got a job in the manufacturing industry.”
Underwood added that the CNC router has sped up the club’s manufacturing and prototyping process considerably.
“We actually built most of our robot out of parts cut from that tool specifically,” Underwood said.
Before the donation, the robotics team experienced difficulties with their old CNC router, according to Underwood. He described how the tool was extremely inefficient and required a few people to spend all their time working with it, which meant that it was a huge time commitment.
Additionally, many team members didn’t know how to operate the router. According to Underwood, the new CNC router allows the team to take the time to train new students, as well as manufacture robots for competitions.
Wright elaborated on this, explaining how last year, after the team had acquired the new CNC router, they had one of their most successful seasons.
“In the past, we felt like the technical precision of our robot wasn’t as capable, and [was] less precise than other teams we were competing against,” Wright said. “Last season, we felt that our robot was a reliable machine, and that kind of reliability connects back to the tools you have access to.”
Underwood said that the BHS Development Group has been donating to Team Berkelium for the past three years, helping them secure the materials they need.
Jennifer Morgan, co-president of the BHS Development Group, started working with the non-profit six years ago. She described how their main goal is to use the donations they receive to provide funding for the things that students need, but that the school or district can’t afford, such as additional chromebooks for the multilingual program and teacher training.
“The reason why the BHS development group succeeds is because there are so many generous donors in the community,” Morgan said. “People connected with the school, and because of that, we’re able to help these programs.”