Tech, Time, Team

Robotics at ACC


Erin Gaul

Robotics Club 2023

Shangwen Cheng, Staff Reporter

Our robotics team, the Koibots, is one of the more prominent clubs at the Arlington Career Center (ACC). They are part of the organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), where each team is given a unique registration number, ours being #8230. Since the team was first founded in 2019, the number of members has more than doubled every year, reaching an all-time high of 45 this season. Below, in an interview with several team members, we take a look at what makes the team such a large draw to the student population.

Why did you join the team?

Team members cite reasons like the opportunity to learn new things, and finding interest from having watched the competitions from previous years. “I like CAD,” adds Anna, a sophomore new to the team, referring to Computer Aided Design, a skill often used in design and fabrication.

Why did you stay on the robotics team?

The team has a wide variety of draws to all kinds of people, from the thrill of competition to a supportive environment, and a place to learn practical skills that extend past a regular class curriculum.

How does leadership on the team work?

Both the coaches and veteran team members agree that leadership doesn’t work by election or appointment. Benito, a senior and veteran on the team, says, “When someone stands up, works hard, and gets something done, it demonstrates their ability and dedication to the team.” Those that put in an exceptional effort are recognized and slowly incorporated into leadership positions. They then look for the next group of outstanding kids, and the cycle continues. For the most part, projects are student-led, about which Anna “occasionally Nystrom comes and yells at everyone about their grades.”

How does the team get funding?

While Mr. Nystrom, one of the coaches and an engineering teacher here at the school, jokes that the team steals money from the bank, the team’s funds are hard-earned. A majority of the money comes from the fall fundraiser, where the team does yard work in Arlington communities. Semi-affectionately dubbed “child labor” by the team members, it is as much a teamwork exercise as a fundraiser, allowing people to connect before being thrown headfirst into the competitions. Sometimes, the team receives grants that they have applied for.

How much time do you spend on the team?

The robotics team requires immense dedication. Mr. Nystrom says, “I’ll spend an hour now, half an hour during Archers, I woke up and was probably doing something thoughtful, and we’re not even in build season.” Benito describes build season as even more time-intensive, “upwards of 30 hours a week.”

What is your favorite part of the robotics team?

Many members say that the people on the team are their favorite part, learning from and with others. Mr. Nystrom says this, “I got to make a person cry today and give them a hug, and tell them I love them. It’s hard, but we’re a family. Camaraderie.”

The KoiBots is a place for team members to learn, grow, and develop valuable skills in both personal and professional environments. It takes an incredible amount of dedication, time, and effort, and when the team comes together, they can truly produce incredible results. Last year, their second year competing on the field, the team went to the Chesapeake Region District Championships. This year, they hope to see you at Worlds.


Mr. Nystrom — Steve Nystrom, engineering/CAD teacher, coach
Benito — Benito Esposti, senior on the team
Anna — Anna Litwiller, sophomore on the team