The Sham-Rock-Botics team interest students at Westfield High School • Current Publishing

The Sham-Rock-Botics team interest students at Westfield High School • Current Publishing

The robotics team at Westfield High School has sparked great interest among the students, who are preparing to start their next season in January.

Matt Feldman, who serves as one of several guides, said the Sham-Rock-Botics team is competing against other robot teams in the area and is tasked with different challenges in competitions. However, Feldman said that a large part of the team’s work at the start of each season involves building a robot from scratch that takes several weeks.

“Our main goal is to inspire people around STEM fields — STEM — but we also try to build students as a whole,” Feldman said.

Feldman said students are participating in group outreach efforts, business plan development, as well as visual media and public relations as part of their participation in Sham-Rock-Botics, which is part of FIRST Robotics, an international high school robotics competition.

This year, there are 12 students returning, and the robotics team as a whole usually consists of 20-25 people. The first full Saturday in January marks the kick-off when a new game is released, meaning students will have roughly six to eight weeks before their first competition to plan, design and build a new robot, according to Feldman.

Feldman said the fall season is usually the time when mentors try to engage the freshmen with the team, which finished fourth in the area competition in Columbus and the Sham-Rock-Botics team finalists for the state championship.

Feldman, a software engineer at Optiv in Carmel, said he partnered with his robotics team at Pike High School that eventually helped him define his career path. He added that students also learn about important skills that will benefit them in the future, such as communication, noting that students are required to work with other teams in competitions within different matches.

“It is important that we understand our strengths and weaknesses and that we can discuss that with our coalition partners and determine the best strategies and hopefully we can beat[other teams],” Feldman said.

Graham Puterbaugh, a senior student in his third year with Sham-Rock-Botics, said he decided to participate due to his interest in robotics and noted that his favorite part was interacting with fellow team members.

He said, “We have some really great members on the team… and it’s a lot of fun to work with them.” “It’s a really great learning experience and going to the competitions is so much fun…the actual matches are a huge adrenaline rush.”

Boterbo’s teammate Abhijay Salvi said he learned about the Sham Rock Bottics through a school ad and became interested in robotics with the middle school team. Salvi got involved at the high school level during his sophomore year, which he said was a great experience having joined soon after the inaugural meeting.

Salvi, who wants to pursue a career in computer science and robotics, said he is particularly interested in how the two fields work together. He said his involvement with the robotics team has proven beneficial.

“This is a great opportunity because you not only learn how to build a robot from scratch — from manufacturing to attaching parts to electrical components — but you can also learn other technical skills like computer science and electricity,” Salvi said.

But it is the competitions that provoke the most exciting for my predecessor.

“This is the time when you can see how well you do in a real-life environment,” he said. “You can see your amazing product in the field and see its success.”

But the challenges and obstacles students face is an important part of the overall robotics learning experience, according to Salvi.

“They become critical to success, but it also helps teach us a lot about teamwork, communication, and the basic skills you need to do well in a high-density area,” he said.

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To learn more about Sham Rock Boutiques, visit or email The group is actively accepting high school students interested in being a part of Sham-Rock-Botics for its upcoming season, which begins in January.

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