Six FTC (First Tech Challenge) robotics teams from Hood River County schools will compete Saturday at Hood River Valley High School after the last of eight League Play competitions this season was held Jan. 7.
Saturday’s event was hosted by the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. All teams will advance to League Championships on Jan. 16 at HRVHS and the Oregon State Competition Feb 27-28.
As part of FTC robotics competition, the Hood River teams have been preparing by designing, building, programing, and learning to operate a robot with the instruction of HRVHS Engineering teacher, Jeff Blackman.
This year’s robot competition, called First Res-Q, mimics current-day mountain rescue techniques. The Hood River FTC teams score points with their robots during matches by maneuvering it in various ways based on these techniques. This can include challenges such as collecting objects from the playing field and hanging the robot from a bar during the last 30 seconds of their match.
The teams include Men in Green, Steelhead, Occam’s Razor, The Transformers, and Fig Nutron, from HRVHS, as well as Challenge Accepted, from Hood River Middle School.
FTC helps students develop their engineering skills while challenging them to work together as a team and solve problems. “There’s a lot of reliability issues in robots. They don’t always work all the time and that’s frustrating,” said team member Erik Siekenin from The Transformers. But robotics kids learn to prevail.
Teams must not only score well with their robot during matches, but also each team must have a solid community outreach program. One Hood River team, Steelhead, focuses on getting more of the school districts younger students involved in the robotics program. According to member Elizabeth Bailey, her team has coached an FLL (elementary and middle school) Robotics team and organized FLL events as part of their outreach.