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The team has had past success at the world championship, though they got even further this year.

COURTESY PHOTO: GLENCOE HIGH ROBOTICS - Manufacturing student Tyler Ohnstad quickly runs through a checklist of bolted connections on the team's 'Eruption' robot between  matches at the world championships in Houston. The Glencoe High School Robotics Team, dubbed "Shockwave," has continued its recent success with a strong showing at the world championship in Houston two weeks ago.

The team was the highest-ranked from Oregon to compete at the event that features thousands of students from around the world.

The four-day event held in late April pits teams from different divisions against each other to compete with their robots. The "game" and the rules of the competition changes every year, with this year's featuring a competition called Rapid React.

Teams started at the beginning of the year with a book of rules and tasks laid out for them to build a robot that can outmatch others at the game. Rapid React is sort of like basketball, where robots must shoot oversized tennis balls into a large, elevated goal set up in the middle of an arena. COURTESY PHOTO: GLENCO HIGH ROBOTICS - This is the Rapid React game challenge that teams competed at for regional and world competitions in robotics. The robot marked 4488 represents Glencoe High School's Team Shockwave, which is making a shot at the central goal with a red ball fired from its central mechanism.

Team Shockwave built a robot called Eruption, capable of both picking up the balls to fire them at the target, and of using its long retractable arm to grab onto overhanging monkey bars and lift itself up — a feat worth extra points.

While the students design the robot around these functions, team mentor Jean Tenca — himself a graduate of a robotics team at his own high school in the early 2000s — says that the name of the game is constant improvements and maintenance on the robot.

"It's kind of like a NASCAR pit," Tenca explained. "They come out from the floor with maybe a little damage from the competing robot … then we patch it up. It's a neat challenge to keep the robot maintained and improving throughout this whole process."COURTESY PHOTO: GLENCOE HIGH ROBOTICS - Mechanical and manufacturing students in Glencoe High School's Team Shockwave assemble this year's competition robot, named 'Eruption.'

Eruption's performance netted the Glencoe team wins at its first two events, qualifying them for the regional competition in Washington. They placed in the top 10 there, allowing them to compete in the world championship in Houston.

Tenca described the event as "The Super Bowl of Robotics," with tens of thousands in attendance and hundreds of teams competing. The competitions are similar to the television show "Battle Bots," which pits more compact, combat-ready robots against one another in an arena.

These high school robotics teams aren't about battling — and their creations are significantly larger and faster — but the premise is the same, with robots competing in a constructed arena space designed around whatever this year's challenge is. COURTESY PHOTO: GLENCOE HIGH ROBOTICS - Programming students Daniel Anderson (left) and Forrest Felsch (center, standing), get instruction from Programming Lead Josie Erjavec (center, sitting), and Programming Mentor rice Onken (right) on how to use previous seasons' robots to program the new prototype.

In 2018, just five years after the team first started competing, the team led its division at the world tournament — an honor that goes to the top-performing team in each division. This year, the team managed to translate that success into competing in the elimination rounds, which only happens after winning several qualifying matches.

As with most extracurriculars in school, the robotics team is really like a big family, with students and their loved ones all pitching in and volunteering to achieve the team's goals in time for the competition season in the spring. COURTESY PHOTO: GLENCOE HIGH ROBOTICS - Students and mentors with Glencoe High School's Robotics team cheer on costumed kids who play with a robot built in 2021 at last year's Harvest Festival in Hillsboro.

But where Glencoe Robotics is concerned, it really does come from familial roots.

Jean Tenca and his mother, Williane Tenca, coach the squad, and together, they started the team back in 2012. Williane Tenca also started robotics teams at high schools in Corvallis and Portland.

It all came during an initial wave of new robotics teams in Oregon, which started around 2002.

"It's meaningful because, having myself gone through the program and my brother having gone through it as well — I see the impact," Jean Tenca said. "It gives kids real hands-on applications of the stuff that they learn in school. We hear kids all the time say, 'Oh, that's why I'm studying geometry, or that's why I'm studying physics.'

"It makes it more valuable, and they just start paying more attention," he added.

And the time commitment is large. The team meets five days per week in order to design, build and maintain the robot. The team gets split up into different roles, from manufacturing, electrical work, programming and many more tasks.

It's all built from scratch, using materials that the teams acquire — though they do have major sponsors like NASA, Intel and Boeing to pitch in money and materials.

This year's accomplishments are made even greater by the fact that team numbers are down across nearly all after-school activities thanks to COVID-related disruptions. COURTESY PHOTO: GLENCOE HIGH ROBOTICS - The team's season is helped by sponsors like NASA, as well as Hillsboro-based companies like Intel and Synopsys, Inc.

In a typical year, the robotics team would have around 40 members, Tenca said, but this year's squad had just 17. That led to a lot of long days and nights spent working on Eruption and all the other logistics of competing.

"I'm always proud of the amount of dedication on behalf of the mentors and the students," Tenca said. "The amount of hours put in to make this happen every year is really incredible. … But we see the passion and this potential in the students, and we want to see them grow and develop and get that spark for engineering."

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