Spotlight: Winner’s Circle Robo Jockeys Robotics Team

WCRJ logo

Student Leadership: The team is led by 5 engineering captains and 5 entrepreneurship captains, determined by the beginning of the team’s winter competition season.

Teacher Sponsors: Alisia McClain and Glenn Zwanzig

What is the mission of Winner’s Circle Robo Jockeys at Manual? To provide real-world hands-on learning to high school students in engineering, technology, business and communications. This is done by exposing students to career-enhancing skills through mentorship from professionals in engineering, business, and other fields. This team is working to build a community of STEM champions – sponsors, mentors, parents and students — who help teens build a foundation for a future in STEM and related fields.

What are the requirements to become a WCRJ member? Membership on the team requires a commitment to attending regular practices, plus parent support to help run the volunteer-managed team (volunteers spent over 2500 hours mentoring and supporting the team last year). The team has two components – engineering and entrepreneurship.
• Membership on the engineering team requires a higher level of commitment, including attending 6-12 hours a week of weeknight and weekend practices, especially during the team’s winter build season.
• Membership on the entrepreneurship team is less demanding – attending practices every other Friday after school to help with business, marketing, social media, game strategy, etc.

How many students were in WCRJ last school year? Close to 30 students participated last year, just over half from Manual and the other half from other schools in the region. This year, we expect about 20 students on the engineering team and 20 on the entrepreneurship team.
• Leadership opportunities in engineering include CAD, prototyping, building, programming and driving the robot.
• Entrepreneurship includes game strategy, business, marketing/spirit wear, award writing & communications, safety and IT/knowledge management.

What activities will members be involved in over the next few months? The engineering team will set up its new workshop in UofL’s Science Garage and then begin building a practice robot – a 100-pound robot that navigates obstacles using remote control. The students will design, CAD, use machine tools to cut out metal parts, assemble the robot, program it, and then test drive it. The entrepreneurship team will begin fundraising, marketing, updating its website, and organizing the team’s outreach activities, including activities through the Girl’s Engineering Time club that WCRJ created.
• Girl’s Engineering Time (GET) is a group for high school and college-aged women who want extra hands-on experience with engineering. GET will design and build a solar plane with faculty from UofL this year, every other Saturday afternoon.
• The group will also continue its discussion sessions. April’s session was “Engineering for the Greater Good” which featured seven professional female engineers who spoke on a wide range of opportunities to impact society through engineering and science.
• This fall, GET will host a series called “Innovation U”, to explore and improve opportunities to develop a culture of innovation within our local high school and college students. These events will take place on the last Saturday of each month, from 1-3pm, and are especially targeted toward college and high school students and teachers. GET hopes to work with Manual’s STEAM Innovation and WISE clubs to involve Manual students in these events.

What are some goals for this the year? To have all engineering team members trained in either CAD or programming. To recruit sponsors, build a strong team brand, have fun, learn, and develop future STEM and business leaders. The team also hopes to win a regional tournament and attend the World Championships in St. Louis in April.

Why do you think students should consider joining Winner’s Circle Robo Jockeys? The club provides students with practical real-world skills in engineering and business, valuable leadership opportunities, and a chance to be part of a community that is passionate about learning STEM. Colleges greatly appreciate the valuable training WCRJ team members receive in high school, and often recognize them with scholarships and early internship opportunities.

Is there anything else you would like to share? The team is always trying to recruit more girls and minority students to have as diverse a team as possible. Students do not need prior experience in robotics or engineering. Students can learn new skills, try out ideas, and pursue passions on this team, all in a fun and supportive atmosphere.

To receive information on WCRJ, Girl’s Engineering Time, or the “Innovation U” discussion series, please email