Senior works to keep robots team funded and visible

O CAPTAIN! Joe Kledis is the captain of operations and marketing for Glitch 2.0, SILSA’s robotics team that competed in its first competition at UNC Asheville on March 4-5. Photo courtesy of Kledis

If you’re looking for Joe Kledis, check in the robotics lab. “Almost all my time goes to robotics, because I just love it,” says this 17-year-old senior at the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville. “I’ll go on Saturdays. I’m dedicated. It’s so much fun.”

Kledis is the captain of operations and marketing for Glitch 2.0, SILSA’s robotics team that competed in its first competition at UNC Asheville on March 4-5. There, they took the Rookie All Star Award and the Rookie Seed Award. “I’m glad all our hard work paid off,” he says.

On Friday, March 31, the group is headed to East Carolina University to compete at the state level.

The original Glitch robotics team dissolved during the pandemic lockdowns. After in-person learning resumed in 2021, Glitch 2.0 was launched.  “There were a lot of veteran members from the old team who heard about it and helped out. We’re the spiritual successor of the original Glitch,” Kledis says.

The experience of leading operations and marketing for the team has led Kledis to consider majoring in economics in college, maybe with a focus on public policy and government. Summer vacation plans include visiting college campuses.

Xpress sat down with Kledis to discuss his favorite part of the Glitch 2.0 work, fundraising and the one big lesson learned from this experience.

This interview has been lightly condensed and edited.

Xpress: What’s been your favorite part of the work?

Kledis: Competitions are always fun. But I really enjoy writing and managing all the stuff. You interact with all the people. I’m in charge of all the business. We have to self-finance our club, and it’s up to us to get everything in order: our travel, our budgeting, our marketing. We’re not just going in there and building robots. There’s so much more and we’re doing all this community outreach and planning all these events. It’s not just engineering. We expand much broader.

How did you go about fundraising for this project?

We get sponsorships. We reach out to sponsors through emails, or they find us through our social media or website. They connect digitally to create partnerships with us, but we often meet them to make connections face to face.

What’s been the most challenging part of this effort for you?

Managing it all. It’s a demanding task. It’s fun, and it’s rewarding. But there’s a lot you have to do and make sure it works properly. Finances alone, it costs $35,000 a year as a minimum just to operate and function, maybe more depending on how far we go. It takes a lot of energy just to get the finances. Then we need to maintain a website, develop a presence, we need to get spirit gear. Like right now I’m wearing a Glitch 2.0 hoodie and a hat. All that takes time and resources. And on top of that is all the community outreach because we want to have a positive impact on our community. Our mission is to serve as a role model for the Asheville area, provide STEM opportunities and connect the community with STEM.

What’s an example of the community outreach that you do?

We have some more environmentally focused projects that we work with them, Blue Jeans Go Green, Hard 2 Recycle and Habitat for Humanity. All these organizations help get waste off of the streets and dispose of it properly. We partner with people like the Asheville Museum of Science and the Maker Faire, and go out and do big displays with our robot to get the community involved and show them what we do.

What would you say is the one big lesson you’re learning from this experience?

Writing and communication are key. Across all the views, maybe something is just a business task, then all of a sudden, you need to utilize something from marketing or even mechanical in some cases. Always having a game plan. We will communicate what we need to do and each task is incredibly important. Having that in writing is also important so we can rely on it and keep it for later. It’s also important for sustainability. Otherwise, how will the next generation know what we did or the people after us when I graduate?


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2 thoughts on “Senior works to keep robots team funded and visible

  1. rwd

    This is a great account of a POSITIVE encounter ! Too bad there are not any comments.

    Keep it up fella…you inspire me to…well I have an VCR / DVD Combo electronic unit that I need to dust off and convert old VCR tapes to disk and then convert the disk/s to jump-drives and / or to the cloud !! Technology is grand !!

  2. oldradiogeek

    Excellent! Great to see you and your team GLITCH 2.0 are a part of First Robotics Competition (FRC). Y’all have a good record for a rookie team. I believe your team and the Gorillas in Hendo may be the only FRC teams in W.N.C. My son was active for years, starting in the FIRST Lego League, then FRC Team 339 (Kilroy Robotics) in high school, and then an advisor and emcee at state-wide competitions. It encouraged him to get his computer engineering degree and he now enjoys a very successful career. FIRST is a fantastic organization and has helped launch thousands of STEM careers. Readers should understand that the FRC is international in scope, the competition is serious, and the teams are doing very technical engineering work on tight schedules (often with adult engineering and business professionals as mentors). So to Joe Kledis & Glitch 2.0: great job!

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