What Is WARP Drive?

A short summary of the program.

We are the West Ashley High School robotics team, based out of Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Although we compete with more than one robot, each individual squad takes the same name, “WARP Drive.” The reason we do this is because of what the acronym “WARP” means to us. WARP stands for “West Ashley Robotics Program” and we prefer to think of ourselves as a complete program, rather than individual teams. Why?

Team members across all of our squads routinely help each other, work collaboratively to solve engineering problems, and share the very best of what each robot has to offer. This season, we are competing with two uniquely different robots that have been meticulously researched, designed, prototyped, engineered, tested and programmed. Although each of the robots was initially designed by our team as a whole, many of the specific mechanisms, sensors, and even team strategy varies between the teams. Each year, we assign team members to new teams, allowing them to learn skills they are weak in and try out all the roles on a VEX Robotics team.

This is our 8th VRC season and in that time we’ve grown from only 4 team members, to well over 30! It’s staggering to look back and see how many teams we’ve created, bots we’ve built, and awards we’ve won. This season we plan to design, construct, and program two complete robots to compete in the VEX Robotics Competition, Change Up.

Our coach, Mr. Nicholas Holmes, has several years of experience as a teacher and robotics coach. Mr. Holmes is often joined by our team mentors who work for local businesses as professional engineers and are experts in their respective field. We routinely work with engineers from Cummins and the Army Corps of Engineers. We are also very fortunate to receive financial support from the local chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Boeing.

Our teams generally meet two times per week throughout the entire school year; however, we are also very active in our community. Each year we volunteer at the United Way Day of Caring to help clean up our local community. We are also very active promoters of VEX robotics and STEM instruction. We do this by providing robotics demonstrations at the local STEM festival, the national DIG Show Technology Festival, and even local events such as back-to-school nights at the local elementary and middle schools.

In 2014 we began trying to increase VEX awareness in our area by offering to mentor teams at any school that was interested in beginning a VRC program. We have successfully implemented programs at three local middle schools by attending their meetings to help with the design process, host robotics summer camps for all Charleston County students, and invite the teams we mentor to visit our high school and take part in some of our team-building activities.

Our hard work has paid off, as we’ve now won the South Carolina State VRC Championship multiple times! We’ve won over 40 awards throughout the years, and these victories have even, at times, earned us a ticket to compete at the VRC World Championships. And although we have already achieved many of the goals we have set for our program, the West Ashley Robotics Program continues to work each and every day to increase STEM awareness, help build new and competitive VRC teams, and encourage all students to strive to find what makes them passionate!

This piece was originally written by Matt Baumgardener, and has been revised for the 2020 season.