Ventura’s HighTide robotics team succeeds through hard work and dedication


Aadhya Bavkar

Ventura’s local robotics team, Team 4414, soars high in competitions through countless hours of work dedicated to making the best possible robots.

Claire Hadley, Writer

Robotics at Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) is unheard of by many students, but deserves recognition and praise for countless hours and late nights that several students pour their heart into while using STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and collaborative social skills. Students who wish to participate in robotics can affiliate with the worldwide, high-ranked organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST).

FIRST is a global organization that accommodates youth at all different skill levels. As of 2020, there were 679,000 students involved in FIRST in approximately 110 countries.

FIRST is a worldwide robotics organization that focuses on science, engineering, technology, self confidence, communication and leadership. In FIRST, there are three different programs serving children Pre-K through their senior year in high school: FIRST LEGO league, Tech Challenge and robotics competition team.

FIRST robotics competition team is the most intense level; this is the level in which most Foothill Tech students partake in. The mission statement of the competition team is “Under strict rules, limited time and resources, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.”

The mentality of always doing your best and putting your best foot forward has been a really good learning lesson.

— Aadhya Bavkar ‘25

At Foothill Tech, several students participate in FIRST’s Team 4414, nicknamed “HighTide.” HighTide is the community team for students at schools in Ventura, California. At HighTide there are four different jobs for students on a team: machining, programming, electrical or design. With roughly four to five members per job, teams collaboratively work together to create their robots. First, the design team makes a computer-aided design (CAD) model of the robot online. The parts made by the design team are then shipped to the manufacturing team that makes the actual products from the design team. Then, the programming team writes the code for the robots through JAVA. Finally, the electrical team assembles all aspects of the robot and puts it together. The finishing touch is the programming team adding their codes to their robot. 

Aadhya Bavkar ‘25, a manufacturer for Team 4414, says that their team’s workspace is “really unique because many teams don’t have their own mills to manufacture parts, but we’re hosted in a manufacturing facility.” Being able to work in a manufacturing facility provides team members with valuable equipment such as lasers and mills that help improve efficiency and advance technological skills.

Robotics is rewarding and an enriching experience in many ways. When asked about what she has learned in robotics, Bavkar states, “Well, starting with the obvious ones, I learned how to manufacture things and how to operate under stress and I learned how to design a lot of things too. But from a more social aspect, I’ve learned about talking to new people and giving insight on how engineering works and the entire process and just working under stress has been really helpful to be in the world class type of team.”

HighTide has a reputation for placing high in any competition they attend. The high placings are a result of vigorous work throughout the entire year. HighTide meetings are three hours long and the amount of days per week ranges as the year progresses. 

In April of 2022, High Tide even made an appearance at the 2022 FIRST Championships in Houston. To qualify for this competition, a team must win at least one regional championship, then at the Championships, they must qualify for their finals. The finals are formatted in a “round robin” style. High Tide harnessed victory both at regionals and at qualifications for FIRST Championships, ultimately earning second place overall at the prestigious event. In response to the FIRST Championships competition, Bavkar stated, “We did not win, but we played every last match in the round robin and lost the tie break. We were really proud of how the team performed, we were very close to winning.” 

Jane Kim ‘26 lends advice to anyone thinking of joining the prestigious team by stating, “The application process can seem really daunting but really if you just go, try it out, like it and are willing to commit to it, then I think it is a really good opportunity.”

Kim has a love for robotics and states that her favorite part “is definitely when we go to competition and do well after all of those hours of work we put in.”

The local FIRST team may be a huge commitment, but the countless hours spent in the mill and working after hours is certainly rewarding. Bavkar put it best when she exclaimed that “if you are willing and devoted to doing it, you will have a really great time.”

What do you think?