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All three teams advance to the semifinals and earn awards Jan. 25 at Tigard High School

TIGARD — Newberg High School’s prowess in robotics was on full display at the First Tech Challenge qualifying tournament Jan. 25 at Tigard High School, where all three teams that competed advanced to at least the semifinals and won awards, including first place overall for the all-female Iron Men team.

The Iron Men had already earned their bid to the upcoming state meet by securing the second-place Inspire Award for overall performance two weeks earlier at the OMSI qualifying tournament, so the first-place Inspire Award this time around was just icing on the cake.

The team earned its second-place finish at the OMSI tournament despite the fact that it did not advance out of the qualifying rounds, but this time the Iron Men were the No. 1 seed after qualifying. The group also earned the Control Award for their robot’s performance in autonomous mode.

“The first time around they had electronic issues where I think they just sat there for a couple of rounds because things just weren’t turning on like they were supposed to,” NHS teacher Terry Coss said. “They had to troubleshoot and figure it out, then they really came back.”

The Iron Men picked the Newberg Tigers team with their first choice for the knockout rounds and those two teams partnered with a Tualatin High School team to eliminate NHS’ third team, Team Aeterna, in the semifinals.

The Tigers took home a finalist award and the Innovate Award, impressing the judges with the creativity used to design both the gearbox that the robot uses to do a pull-ups and its drive train.

The two NHS teams’ alliance was on its way to victory in the finals, but two penalties — imposed for illegally touching the border of the game arena — cost them the victory.

That gave the win to Amity High School’s 2MuchSense and RoboWarriors, who earned bids to state with their performance.

“It sucked that it happened during the championship round, but it’s still a really good lesson to learn,” Tigers team member Alex Radcliffe said.

Newberg’s fourth squad, Team Underscore, competed Sunday, but did not advance out of qualifying after finishing ranked 14th.

Both the Tigers and Aeterna will join the Iron Men at the state competition because they will host qualifying tournaments Saturday and Sunday at Evergreen Space Museum in McMinnville, where Underscore will look to advance to state as well.

The program is still looking for volunteers, especially those with engineering backgrounds, to help with the tournament. For more information, call the NHS machine shop at 503-554-5390 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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