The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: Drills and thrills

Vivek Nayyar brings resilience and kindness to his peers
Kairui Sun
“For every time we break one end mill drill bit, we add a tally on the machine. We have a list each year of how many times we’ve broken that, and it’s huge. Stuff breaks. We get back up and keep working,” Vivek Nayyar (12) said.

The dazzling white floodlights of the George R. Brown Convention center dim to a soft, pulsing purple on cue with the music. Vivek Nayyar (12) gazes at the crowd of familiar, smiling faces, illuminated by splashes of yellow and red and unified by a carefully crafted robot. Bleachers packed with students across the country span the vast hall, and the buzz of anticipation for the final round tingles in the air.

That night at the 2023 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) highlights only a snapshot of Vivek’s journey with robotics. He first experienced the excitement of building his own robot alongside his friends when they participated in VEX competitions in middle school.

“We did pretty well, and we won a few awards,” Vivek said. “But importantly, that was the feeder. We tried robotics and it was exciting, fun, and we did well, so I kept wanting to continue in high school.”

To further his burgeoning interest in robotics, Vivek participated in a summer camp hosted by the upper school robotics team, FRC 1072. Throughout the week, Vivek learned to operate the machines in the robotics lab as well as design various mechanical elements.

Throughout Vivek’s experience working on the physical technology of the team’s robots, he and his team utilized complex machines to manipulate and shape raw materials to desired specifications. Each mechanical part underwent a cycle of disintegration and replacement: representative of Vivek’s resilient presence on the robotics team.

“For every time we break one end mill drill bit, we add a tally on the machine,” Vivek said. “We have a list each year of how many times we’ve broken that, and it’s huge. Stuff breaks. We get back up and keep working.”

Vivek’s resilience enables him to continuously rebound from challenges, both technical and interpersonal, within robotics. During FRC 1072’s most recent season, these obstacles took the form of key decisions with the mechanics of the robot. As the machining lead of the team, Vivek had to make impactful, big-picture decisions that would influence the course of the entire year’s work. Despite Vivek’s years of experience with robotics, his plan was not perfect.

“Once last year, we had to miss one of our competitions because we tried to make drastic changes on the robot, and we didn’t have time,” Vivek said. “That was really rough for me because the decision to change was basically all on me. But we did our best to course correct and fix it up for the next [competition], and when we went, we performed well.”

Perseverance also serves as a core value with Vivek’s journey through dance. Vivek started dancing with Harker’s lower school at the age of 7 and joined Kinetic Krew, the upper school hip hop team, in his sophomore year. Despite not being selected to the team in ninth grade, Vivek’s determination and passion inspired him to continue dance.

“I decided that I just had to keep trying, keep working, get better,” Vivek said. “Then I got it the next year: it was motivating and was a sign that I had to keep improving, no matter what.” 

Ever since joining dance, Vivek has greatly valued the community dancing fosters. When on stage, Vivek embraces the strong camaraderie between his fellow dancers and feeds off their energy to produce electrifying performances. Kinetic Krew’s thrilling routines also stir up the audience’s energy which Vivek feeds off of, producing a loop of exhilaration.

“Performing is addicting, getting all that pure adrenaline when you’re actually performing with all your friends,” Vivek said. “Last year, [Kinetic Krew] performed at the spirit rally. That was our best routine that we’ve performed as a group. It was really exciting because the whole school was watching and everyone was cheering.”

For Vivek, community begins with his friend group, who has remained a constant anchor, tightly knit for the last decade.

“We know each other so well, and we’re so intertwined that at this point it’s unbreakable,” Vivek said. “We’ve gone through all of lower school, middle school, and high school together. I’ve known them my whole life.”

With his friends, Vivek serves as a constant source of support and positivity, which close friend Adrian Liu (12) has valued since second grade. Over the last ten years, they’ve been “almost physically attached” to one another.

“Vivek has always been a huge support guy for me, and that’s continued for the last six years,” Adrian said. “No matter what it is, he’ll give you the time and respect that your issue deserves. He has a lot of patience and is super respectful about the way he approaches your issue.”

Echoes of Vivek’s persistent approach to robotics resurface in his friendships, as close friend Ashwin Kuppahally (12) remarks. After meeting Vivek in first grade, the two have competed in robotics contests as a team besides eating lunch together daily.

“If you’re going through anything, he’s easy to talk to and he’ll definitely try to help you,” Ashwin said. “Since he’s always been there for me, he encouraged me to want to do that for other people too.”

Vivek carries his kindness and resilience through every endeavor, qualities that upper school dance teacher Rachelle Haun, who worked closely with Vivek in Kinetic Krew, believes will serve him well in the future.

“Vivek’s gotten more vocal with his kindness,” Haun said. “He’ll do it under his breath: he’ll just whisper, ‘Oh, really good job.’ Not for anyone to hear him and get attention, but just to genuinely praise his teammates. I really think his personality is going to take him far because that emotional intelligence is not easy to find.”

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About the Contributor
Kairui Sun, Reporter
Kairui Sun (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is his second year on staff. This year, Kairui wishes to understand the Harker community better by writing a variety of articles. In his free time, he likes to play piano and volleyball.

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