The Kalamazoo Central and Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center graduate’s two older brothers were involved in robotics, his younger brother participates, and his dad has coached all of their teams.
This fall, Daniel plans to attend Michigan State University to study computer science.
“I liked the whole problem solving aspect of it, thinking through problems and then thinking through solutions,” said Daniel, who serves on the programming side of the team rather than the building side. “It’s fun to work on a team toward a common goal.
“I heard someone say, ‘It’s the hardest fun you’ll ever have in your life.’ I like that.”
Nguyen has been a member of the Zoobotix robotics team for four years. He was also a member of varsity tennis for four years and a member of the National Honor Society. This spring he was named an Excellence in Education winner. Nguyen was also a commendation winner in the National Merit Scholarship program.
The highlight of the robotics season are the competitions. In his junior and senior years, his team went to states. One of his favorite memories is from the 2017 competition.
“We were doing really badly,” he said. “But in robotics, the teams work in groups. The second-place team chose us way out of the bottom. We ran it all the way back with them and won by two points in the last game.”
Robotics is the perfect activity to get kids involved in computer programming, Daniel said.
“The robots are cool, and everyone is excited about the competitions. There could be basic programming classes in all of the middle schools.”
Daniel took an unusual path during high school, enrolling in KAMSC as a junior to take advantage of higher level math classes. The rigor of the program was intense, but it taught him a valuable lesson about time management.
“There’s a ton of homework and it’s hard to stay on top of it. There is really a lot of discipline there,” he said.
But, at the same time he learned to seek balance to succeed.
“Enjoy these four years of your life. Don’t let the homework overwhelm you.”