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Students' disk-flinging robots compete, and score!


by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Some of the crew of FRC Team 1432 'Mahr's Metal Beavers' - Lewis Hicks, Mathew Robinett, Thomas Hubel, and Chase Foreman - wheel their robot back to their pit area after a competition. Portland’s two Inner Southeast high school robotics teams shot – and scored – during the 2013 Oregon FIRST Robotics Regional Competition, held on March 8-9 at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) organization was started by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 –“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”, which is what the acronym stands for.

Portland’s original high school robotics club, FRC Team 1432, “Mahr’s Metal Beavers”, started at Franklin High in 2003 as a free after-school program. Being kicked out of the school’s otherwise disused auto shop in 2010, for reasons still extremely unclear, didn’t disband the team.

Thanks to the Southeast Portland Rotary Foundation offering to become their fiscal sponsor, and with space provided by the Ivanhoe Lodge of Knights of Pythias, this scrappy team continues onward.

In their team’s pit, during the robotic competition, four-year team member Thomas Hubel told THE BEE that the team is doing better than ever.

“So far we’ve played two matches, and won both of them,” Hubel reported. “Our robot has scored points in all the matches. We’re doing much better than in past years.”

By the time the competition was over, FRC Team 1432 was ranked in 22nd place, out of 59 teams!

“The challenges have gotten more complex over the years,” observed Hubel. “This year, we are to score by launching flying disks off our robots into goals, and by climbing a three-level pyramid.”

Now a senior at Franklin High, Hubel explained why he’s stuck with the program. “It’s fun, and it’s satisfying to see the machinery you and your teammates built working well, out of the field.”

FRC Team 1432, Mahr’s Metal Beavers, is open to all high school students in the area. The team meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 3:45-6:30 pm at the Ivanhoe Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, at 5400 S.E. 84th Avenue at Insley Street. That’s two blocks east of the Foster Road Fred Meyer Store. Learn more by visiting their website: www.team1432.org.HYPERLINK "team1432.org/"

Pigmice in “top 10”

Members of “The Pigmice”, now FRC Team 2733, got their start as middle school students at Winterhaven where they became 2007 FIRST LEGO League first Place Champions at that year’s worldwide competition, as headlined by THE BEE at the time.

They carried their love of robotics forward, as they enrolled into Cleveland High School. “This is my third year with the Pigmice,” said Cleveland junior Garrett Wirsching, as his teammates tinkered with their robot between matches.

“Our strategy at the beginning of the season was to do it all,” Wirsching said. “This means to both have a climber robot and one that shoots out disks. Unfortunately, the design had to change to meet the constraints that we had, and the nature of the game as we determined how it had to be played.”

Unlike many of the other robots, their unit utilized both electric and pneumatic power. “The pneumatic power runs the hopper for our Frisbie shooter, and climbing mechanism,” explained Wirsching. “Electrical power runs all of our drive systems, and the flywheel on our shooter.”

Apparently their design, and playing strategy, paid off – the Pigmice ended the competition being ranked in 8th Place out of 59 teams.

Learn more about FRC Team 2733 The Pigmice online at: www.thebluealliance.com/team/2733.

It appears as if the future of both clubs, which promote the practical study of science, engineering and technology, will be bright – as long as they continue to get support from both mentors and sponsors.