OES Robotics Team Wins in First-Ever Competition

OES Robotics Team Wins in First-Ever Competition

Last weekend, the OES Robotics Team placed second in the Innovate Category in the Oregon FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament in Hillsboro. The competition hosted 18 teams from the Portland area in grades 7-12 who were tasked with designing, building, and coding robots to compete in challenges in a robot arena.

“Winning second place in the Innovative Award felt very rewarding, especially after all of the brainstorming and testing that went into our design,” said Eric M. 26. “The competition was a great benchmark that showed us our next steps and where we needed to improve.”

The challenges include autonomous movement, picking up small tiles or “pixels” and placing them on a board in a preset order, hanging the robot from a low-hanging bar, and the final challenge, launching a paper airplane or “drone” within 3-minute rounds.

“This was their very first competition,” said Robotics Team Faculty Advisor Cameron Jack. “Our goal was to compete. Our goal was to get to the competition to learn more. And the students committed to that—they really pushed it.”

In just its first year as a club activity in the Upper School, the OES Robotics Team has worked all school year to design their competitive robot. The robots are built from a reusable platform powered by Android technology and are coded using a variety of levels of Java-based programming.

“We spent time during and outside school working toward a final prototype,” Eric said. “In our meetings, we made work plans, drafted ideas, constructed the physical parts of the robot, and developed the accompanying software.”

The Innovate Award was given to the OES team for their creativity in design, particularly their robot’s intake and delivery systems, which differed from the rest of the teams.

“I was really surprised that we got an award,” said Kamran M. '26. “I think part of what helped was being an inexperienced team and coming up with novel solutions to the problems presented to us, though it made it hard to succeed in the tournament.”

The competitive season begins in mid-September when a new theme is revealed, and league tournaments run December through February, followed by a championship tournament in March, a goal the OES team is looking forward to in the near future.

“The Robotics Team is a place where I can share my passion for engineering,” Eric said. “It is an opportunity to make close connections with my peers through a common goal. We strive to share our knowledge beyond our close-knit team and are investigating ways to inspire the rest of the OES community.”

Photos courtesy of Cameron Jack. You can watch the team compete here; their first round begins around the 51:50 mark.