Lake Oswego had some robo stars this weekend, with locals comprising four of the 48 teams in the FIRST Tech Challenge Championship Tournament held Feb. 25-26 at Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland.
The four teams that qualified to compete in the statewide event for robotics teams in grades 7-12 were Don't Panic, TOBOR Tech, The Fellowship of the Robot and Team Axis — and two of the teams walked away with awards. The Fellowship of the Robot received the PTC Design Award, given to teams that give their robot a clean and creative look, and Team Axis was honored with the Connect Award for the team that most connects with their local science, technology, engineering and math community.
Earlier this year, more than 200 teams from throughout the state faced off at league meets and qualifying tournaments, and the top-performing teams progressed to the championship. Lake Oswego teams performed well, says David Perry, executive director of the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program, the group that organized the weekend tournament. Teams Axis and Fellowship of the Robot did move on to the super-regional event in Tacoma, Wash. on March 10-12.
FIRST Tech Challenge is not the only robotics game in town, Perry explained. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and the organization seeks to spur interest in the sciences in several divisions. They include FIRST Lego League Jr. for K-3 kids just starting to explore robotics, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for grades 9-12 and FIRST Lego League (FLL) for grades 4-8. FRC and FLL both have competitions coming up.
FLL has its state championship this weekend at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, and the winners will move on to an international event in Houston. FRC will have its regional competition March 30-April 1 at Lake Oswego High School. The Lake Monsters, a Lakeridge-LOHS combo team, will be the hosts for the weekend.
Perry says the Lake Monsters are the "go-to team" for public outreach.
"They often will show up at our events with their T-shirt-launching robot to show the younger kids what FRC is all about, so we really appreciate all of the effort that the Lake Monsters have put in in helping to spread the word," he says.
Their machine is pressurized like an air cannon and creates a lot of excitement.
"They've got a cool branding and mascot and design," complete with a lake creature on it, Perry notes.