Madison High’s robotics team competes

Find out where this outer East Portland team of student robot builders showed off their technical prowess …

From all over Oregon and Washington, 48 teams come to compete at this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Of the 203 Oregon high school teams that participated in this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge competition, only 48 of those teams made it to their state championships.

And, only one outer East Portland team – Timber League alliance’s Team 9520 “The Slingshot” from Madison High School – took one of those slots during the February 25 competition held at Benson High School.

The FIRST Tech Challenge competition is put on by the nonprofit Oregon Robotics Program, said Senior Program Manager Kathy Swider.

This program provides robotic challenge opportunities for students with limited resources, remarks the Oregon Robotics Program’s Senior Program Manager, Kathy Swider.

“It’s similar to Oregon FIRST Robotics, but these teams build smaller robots, and play on a smaller field, which lowers the cost to participate, and thus, makes the program available to more students,” Swider told East Portland News at the competition. “We will crown the winning alliance, and will be sending 13 teams on to the First Tech Challenge Western Regionals in Tacoma, Washington, in a few weeks.”

On playing fields like these, FIRST Tech Challenge teams compete – head-to-head.

Each team of middle and high school students are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots, to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format, commented Swider. Games are played in a 12’x 12’ field with two alliances of two teams competing against each other for points.

In this year’s game, “Velocity Vortex”, robots collected and launched small plastic balls at low and high targets, and try to lift large balls onto a high target in the exciting final seconds.

The Madison High Team 9520, “The Slingshot”, spokesperson Dylan Jay is joined by teammates Joseph Tran, Andy Tran, and Huy Nguyen.

“Although this is my first year, some of our teammates have been participating in this program for several years,” remarked the Team 9520 “The Slingshot” spokesman, Madison High sophomore Dylan Jay.

“This program is good because it allows students like us to figure out what they like to do. Without FIRST Tech Challenge being available to us, we wouldn’t really get the experience to work with this kind of stuff, and might never know if this is something we’d be passionate about.”

Testing out their robot’s controller is Andy Tran.

Being involved in FIRST Tech Challenge also teaches teammates things that can’t be learned in books, Jay added. “First, we’re learning how to work together. And, we’re learning how to build things, do wiring, coding, and stuff that I would not have learned in any other class.”

Unfortunately, Madison High Team 9520 “The Slingshot” didn’t make it through to the finals. “There’s always next year,” Jay reflected.

Interested in this for your student? Find out more about Oregon FIRST Tech Challenge at their official website: CLICK HERE.

> On our FRONT PAGE: Team technician Joseph Tran tunes up their robot for competition.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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