The tipping point of robotics

The HHS Robotics Team’s successful season could lead to a state qualification

Members of Team D158 D pose with their most recent creation, Charisma.

Courtesy of A. Henk

Members of Team D158 D pose with their most recent creation, Charisma.

By Ally Panzloff

After school, room W1107 is anything but quiet. The HHS Robotics Team practices take place in the large engineering classroom, filled with wires, metals, and other materials. 

There are several small groups eagerly discussing their creations. One of these groups, Team 158 D, has the unique chance to make it to the Illinois VEX Robotics State Championship on Feb. 25. 

Founded by advisor Amanda Henk in 2016, the Robotics Team’s objective is to create and code small robots to compete in games designed by VEX robotics. Members play in a bracket-style tournament but are also judged by interviews and their design process. 

Currently ranked 18 out of over 100 teams in Illinois, Team 158 D consists of members Sameer Anber, Ethan Brown, Nick Manzella, Dylan Kozarzewski, and John Kerin. Advisor Henk thinks this team’s experience has been a major factor in their success.

“This is a dedicated group of seniors, almost all of whom have been in the program since their freshman year,” Henk said. 

While the team’s experience does carry a heavy influence, they feel they hold another special element that is pushing them to success. 

“We named our robot Charisma, because with enough charisma, you can do anything,” Brown said. 

The affectionately-named Charisma’s objective this year is called Tipping Point. According to, this means the robot must “get more points than the other Alliance by scoring Rings, moving Mobile Goals to alliance zones, and by elevating on Platforms at the end of the match.”

All though they have not officially qualified for state, the team feels confident they will make it. Their state rankings and skill scores from previous tournaments have made it highly likely they will qualify for the tournament hosted in Matteson, IL. 

“We’re all really thankful for robotics,” Anber said. “It’s given us a great opportunity to develop our skills for our future.”