West Torrance Robotics (WTR)

WTR is an FRC team dedicated to spreading our mission of bringing STEM to others in our community using outreach events within our area.

Photo of Emma Burke
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education
  • Technology

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: wtrobotics.org Instagram: instagram.com/wtrobotics/?hl=en Twitter: twitter.com/wtrobotics

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

STEM is a field that is largely unavailable to many of the youth due to lack of awareness and available resources. Our mission is for all students to have equitable access to STEM through our Robotics program so students can develop skills and apply creative thinking in order to problem solve, collaborate, lead, and innovate with each other in preparation for future stem opportunities.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

By participating and hosting events, our team hopes to extend our community outreach . The WTR FRC team's primary focus has been to get our name and mission out in the community. As a result, our outreach opportunities focus on two main areas. The first is to explain STEM and basic engineering principles to students. The second area is to provide others with hands-on experiences with our robots. We approached the first by going out to smaller outreach opportunities such as demonstration days at the Pumpkin Races in Manhattan Beach and at Bert Lynn and Jefferson, our local middle schools. We established a presence in the community and other organizations have offered us involvement in larger outreach events. The Cabrillo Aquarium hosted the Robotics by the Sea event where we participated and showed families what we do as a FRC team in hopes of interesting them in the program and ones like it. For our goal to provide hands. on experience, we participated in the Joe Patton Academy Camp, a special education day camp, our team provided the children with a chance to interact with and use robots that are not part of their normal day to day learning.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

West Torrance Robotics started in a garage four years ago. With a mere ten members, the team had managed to build their first robot, Penelope. The robot was small and simple. No one at school knew them. We didn’t move on to worlds. However, they did get nominated for Designs Awards. But little did that group know that one day we would be a stable, supported team. Even in the next two years, not many accolades came to the hardworking team. Young, eager members joined, and we moved to the wood-shop. The team got the support of a teacher, but not much more improved. The twenty kids started spreading the word of their team, showing off their robot at a rally, putting up flyers around the school, and going back to their middle schools and their small established Lego Mind-storms teams. We had begun something new, and continued to grow it.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Our team members often go off to become engineers and educators about STEM. One of our previous team members, was so inspired by the message of our team that he decided to devote his life to spreading the message he learned. He was a part of starting an FRC team in Canada with another previous WTR member and is currently working with Blue Robotics in Japan to mentor one of the very few FRC teams there. He was so inspired about what he did during the years he was a part of this team that he went and inspired high schools in other countries to get involved with Robotics and evolve the youth of their country.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

We have committed and dedicated member whose effort have helped inspire our members past and present. Within our team, students are given a majority of the responsibility and they are tasked with making difficult decisions. These decisions can regard almost anything involving our team and can be as big as how we will design our robot to as simple as placing where a rivet goes. With minimal mentors and adult involvement, students will learn the weight of their decisions and the importance of management within the club as well as outreach with our community.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Many of our members have made careers in STEM and engineering based fields through colleges across the world. Several of our alumni and former mentors have continued involvement in other FRC opportunities. One member helped found a new team after he relocated to Canada. Another is currently mentoring a second year team in Japan while he is simultaneously pursuing his masters in Engineering. Being a part of WTR left such an impact on them and we are excited that they wanted to continue sharing the vision of FIRST with others around the world.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the future West Torrance Robotics hopes to bring STEM to a larger platform in our community. We hope to do this by starting on a smaller scale by reconnecting with our middle schools and their robotics clubs on a more regular basis. We also hope to accomplish this by starting to reach out to local elementary schools and research beginning FLL Jr. teams for younger engineers. West Torrance Robotics also hopes to reach out more to our sponsors, other community companies as well as alumni for mentoring support so that we can reach our full potential. We are still a small team, but are trying to make a big impact, one robot at a time.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • T-Mobile page or contact

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Matthew Tikhonovsky

I think it is awesome how students who went through your program continued to pursue robotics and even launched their own initiatives. This really shows that your program is making a lasting impact.

Photo of Emma Burke

Thank you Matthew for your kind words. As we approach our tenth year, we hope continue leaving lasting impact.