‘Metal Beavers’ score high at robotics competition

See this scrappy team, now based in Lents, compete and score points – all while helping out a new team from their former school …

Another match is underway as the ‘Metal Beavers’ compete (their robot has the cool, purple lights) at the FIRST Robotics Competition District Tournament.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Because the FIRST Robotics Competition District Tournament was moved north, from Philomath to Lake Oswego this year, East Portland News was given the opportunity to see our area’s teams compete.

As you may recall, the scrappy robotics club, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1432 – known as the “Metal Beavers” – were kicked out of Franklin High School in 2010 for reasons that even today are obscure, but the nonprofit youth program has continued on in the basement of Knights of Pythias Ivanhoe Lodge #1 in the Lents neighborhood.

The Metal Beavers Team 1432 members stand by, waiting for another match to begin.

Thanks to the efforts of their small-but-mighty team and its mentors, the Metal Beavers started the whirlwind six-week “build season” in January – amid blizzards and ice storms – and competed successfully during the District competition held in Wilsonville in early March, also performing well in the Lake Oswego tournament that began on March 31.

While building their remote-control robot, the Metal Beavers gave time and resources to a new rookie club – Team 6437, “The Pacific Quakers” – sponsored by their original home, Franklin High School.

Oregon Robotics Tournament Outreach Program (ORTOP) Executive Director David Perry describes this year’s competition challenges.

“This year’s game is called ‘FIRST Steamworks’, in which two alliances of three robots compete to deliver cut-out ‘gears’ to teammates, launch balls, and finally, get their 120 lb. robot to climb ropes for additional points,” explained Oregon Robotics Tournament Outreach Program Executive Director David Perry at the event held at Lake Oswego High School.

“These 30 teams, from Oregon and Washington, are competing to gain points with the hopes of being invited to the Pacific Northwest District Championship,” Perry said.

Metal Beavers team mentor Emily Braveman stands in front of Alexandre Couchot, Safety Caption and on-field player Austin Vanderwal, Caleb Eby, senior mentor Alan LohKamp, and engineer and coding mentor Cody Hanks, as they stage for another round of competition at Lake Oswego.

Metal Beavers score highly
Between rounds, Metal Beavers team member Caleb Eby reminded that their four-member team continues to be sponsored by the Ivanhoe Lodge, and the Southeast Portland Rotary Club, among others.

“This is my second year being with our team,” Eby said. “I like it because I’m really interested in computer programming, electronics, and I like driving the robot.”

Operating the on-board systems of the Metal Beavers’ entry is Alexandre Couchot, as Caleb Eby drives the robot.

A sophomore at Franklin High School, Eby said the robotics club enhances his educational experience. “Sometimes, it’s difficult to apply what we learn in class in a competitive situation. When I see our robot out on the field, it makes me feel good, especially when we’re getting as many points as we can.”

After a tie score and a coin flip, the Metal Beavers didn’t move on to the finals, but they ended their “best ever” season ranking 7th place out of the 30 teams, with a total score of 58.

Franklin High sponsors new club

In the pit area between matches are some of the members of the new Franklin High FIRST Robotics Team 6437, “The Pacific Quakers” – Cooper DeLay, Connor Johnston, and Charmaine Bigham.

One of the newest clubs in the league is Team 6437, known as “The Pacific Quakers”, hailing from and sponsored by the Franklin High School (FHS) Marshall Campus, which currently is also in the Lents neighborhood.

“We are a brand-new rookie team this year,” grinned their driver and spokesman, FHS senior Cooper DeLay. “Building our robot was really fun, and we’re grateful for help we got from other teams, the Metal Beavers and the [Cleveland High] Pigmice.

Cooper DeLay drives the Team 6437 “Pacific Quakers” robot entry.

“I think a lot of students would find this program very rewarding; there is some pressure, but the reward is worth it,” DeLay added.

While they didn’t compete in the Playoff Matches, the Pacific Quakers ended their season ranking 19 out of 30, and gathered a total score of 33 points, including a 10-point “Rookie Year Bonus”.

David Douglas High team competes for sixth year

Ready to roll out their robot for another match are some of the members of Team 4132 – “Scotbots” of David Douglas High School.

Since their rookie year of 2012, Team 4132 – Scotbots of David Douglas High School (DDHS) has competed. Last year, the team was the PNW District Event Finalist.

Their about 20 team members enjoy working together, and learning how to apply scientific principles to building a robot that will do well in the competition, said Scotbots spokesman and DDHS senior Daylin Buckle.

“The best part of it for me is working with other people on our team; finding resolutions to conflicts as we go through the build,” Buckle told East Portland News.

Daylin Buckle of Team Scotbots checks their robot before a competition.

As they were staged for another match, Buckle said, “Right now are focusing on picking up our gears and delivering them.”

The team didn’t participate in this event’s playoff matches but scored 4 Wins, 8 Losses and 0 Ties during the 12 Matches Played, ending with a total score of 15.

To learn more about the Oregon Robotics Tournament Outreach Program, see their website: CLICK HERE.

>> On our Front Page: The Metal Beavers’ 120 lb robot climbs a cord and scores extra points.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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