A Vision, a Hope, a Reality – The LRC Clubhouse

Livingston Robotics Club has a new clubhouse!

Since the inception of Livingston Robotics Club, there has always been a vision that a clubhouse, someday, will be the safe haven where the neighborhood children can gather to explore their interests in science and technology.

In 2007, the founding team Landroids was conceived in one small living and dining room, with children sprawling across the floor year-round, every walkable space was covered with LEGO parts.

In 2008, we had envisioned that there ought to be a room large enough for a permanent 4′ x 8′ FIRST LEGO League table, plus some tables and chairs to build and program the robots. A place where a team of maximum 10 students can brainstorm research ideas and work on their science project, and feel safe and comfortable to be there after school.  However,  no such space was available or affordable in town, so each new FLL team had to set up their own home base at the individual coaches’ house.  

In 2009, as LRC was expanding rapidly, each new and returning parent volunteer coach knew that they had to sacrifice their personal space and privacy to host the team meetings from September to December, with hours extended especially near the competition events. Even the Jr.FLL teams started to look for space to meet. There were talks of borrowing the town community center, the teen center, or a church space, but nothing came to fruition.

In the winter of 2010, the West Essex YMCA stepped forward to provide meeting classrooms for the LRC Jr.FLL teams, while the FLL teams survived yet another season at the coaches’ homes. By now, we were bursting at the seams, where 11 kids from two teams could be at one house simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the Landroids has advanced to FIRST Tech Challenge where a 12′ x 12′ field would be needed. There was no room for a real FTC field at home, 6 rubber mats were laid across the floor to simulate the competition runway, and the team was designing the robot in a virtual world.  By October 2010, Link Instruments in Fairfield opened their warehouse, their tool shops and their electronics lab to the Landroids, enable the team to do the R&D work and robot practice there during off hours.  Thanks to Link, the Landroids were able to develop some of their most intricate robot design to date and won an invitation to the St. Louis World Championship by mid January.

In 2011, after months of discussions with the help of HCHY, our parent 501.c(3) non-profit organization, at the end of February, the Eastman Companies has generously provided a 3,300 sf space to be the new home of LRC, while Unique Photo printed the LRC window banners, and Verizon Wireless contributed 6-months of 4G LTE Network service. Members and parents from teams Landroids and Landrias spent days during the winter break week to clean and furnish the place, just in time for Google to come visit the Landroids.  The former restaurant has now been transformed into a science and robotics clubhouse and the new home of the Landroids and LRC. LRC teams now have a clean, well-lighted place, where all the young inquisitive minds will be during their free time to welcome the 2011 season.

Many thanks to our sponsors and HCHY to make this vision a reality, and help us invest in the future generation.

 

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