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COURTESY OF RICHARD HETZLER  - Members of Westviews Hot Wired robotics team won the regional competition in Oakland while setting a new world record. They will now go to nationals in St. Louis.


Robotics teams representing several Beaverton School District high schools and middle schools are among the six Portland-area teams on their way to the national championships in St. Louis after winning divisions during weekend regional competition.COURTESY OF RICHARD HETZLER  - The Techaholix robotics team was made up of middle-school students from Beaverton. The team was a division finalist in the western super-regional competition.

Westview’s Hot Wired team, the International School of Beaverton, and Stoller and Meadow Park middle schools’ Techaholix team were among the winners in the West Super-Regional Championships held March 27-29 in Oakland, Calif.

Thirteen Oregon middle and high school robotics teams were among a field of 72 from a dozen states competing for spots in the FIRST Tech Challenge regional contests.

The Oakland competition involved 10-member teams with students in grades eight through 12 who design and program robots using a robotics kit called Tetrix. The robots competed on a 12-by-12-foot playing field, and during the first 30 seconds, the robots operate completely without human intervention. For the next 120 seconds, team members can assist the robots by sending commands using wireless connections.

In this year’s championship, teams competed in alliances, with each alliance attempting to place balls in tubes of various heights.

The Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program helped organize the local and regional competition to send teams to the western contests. The Oregon teams will compete April 22-25 in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis.

During the western regional contest, Washington County’s 4H team Batteries in Black took second place in the Inspire Award, which is given to the team that performed well in all judging categories and was chosen as a model FIRST Tech Challenge team. Batteries in Black also won first place in the Innovate category and second place in the Control Category.

Hot Wired of Westview High School and Spark Technology Education was a member of the three-team Winning Alliance, which was one of eight alliances formed across two divisions.

Other teams advancing to the world championships are: V-Cube 4H of Washington County, which received the Think Award; Team Axis of Lake Oswego High School, which earned the Control Award; PARADOX, a community team from Portland, which was a division finalist; and Techaholix of Stoller Middle School, Meadow Park Middle School and the International School of Beaverton, which was a division finalist.

“The team really did awesome,” said Techaholix coach Shreyas Saitawdekar. Saitawdekar said his team, which was started in August by Sonia Saitawdekar and Shefali Goel, is the only team in Oregon made up of only middle school students.

In addition to the team awards, C.D. Venkatesh, coach of Team AFOOFA of Washington County 4H, won the Compass Award, which is given to a coach in the 12-state western region.

Venkatesh said he was honored to receive the award,which he received for coaching a team of students from Westview and Jesuit high schools as well as team members from the International School of Beaverton.

Venkatesh said his students worked extremely hard to get to the regional competition but got knocked out in its semifinal match. Regarding his award, he said the real honor “goes to AFOOFA families who entrusted their wonderful kids to me for over nine years.”

Members of Westview’s Hot Wired teamed up with Montana and California teams to form an alliance, and win the competition while setting a new world record, according to coach Kris Kolady.

Hot Wired team members, who will now defend their world championship ranking, said they were pleased with their California performance.

Alex Tharappel, a Hot Wired member who is an eighth-grader at Stoller Middle School, said he knew his team would do well as long as their robot — dubbed “The Beast” — didn’t make any mistakes during the competition.

Team Captain Adam Barton said that based on his team’s ninth-place ranking in the qualifying rounds, he was a little nervous about how the team would do in the final. That would quickly change, however.

“It was quite exciting and quite the performance,” said Barton, a junior at Sunset High School.

Pratheek Makineni, one of Hot Wired’s robot builders, said based on the team’s performance last year, the team had high expectations but, “we didn’t think we’d perform this well with this ranking.”

Makineni, a Sunset High School freshman whose other job was to scout other teams’ robots, said Hot Wired recently took last year’s robot to an Intel campus to give younger students a chance to drive it during a demonstration.

While girls on robotics teams are low in number, Neha Nagabothu, a Westview freshman, said her team hopes to change that by getting more female students involved in the future. She noted that Hot Wired recently mentored three other teams of robotics students.

Justin Bao, a lead Hot Wired programmer and Westview freshman, said for the week prior to regional competition, the Westview team practiced every single day, meeting twice a day. He said he’s looking forward to seeing how the other teams’ robots have changed since last year when they meet in St. Louis.

For more information on the robotics program, visit www.ortop.org/ftc.

Contract Publishing

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