The team of secondary students competed in a field of 60 last week in Houston, Texas.

Students from Lake Oswego escaped the dreary weather last week as they competed in the biggest robotics competition of the year in Texas.

From April 20-23, ToborTech, made up of secondary students from Lake Oswego, competed in the First Tech Challenge World Championships in Houston, Texas. During the three-day competition, the team slowly climbed the ranks and finished 14th in its division.

Due to various factors impacted by the pandemic, the 2022 world championship altered its field of competitors. Usually about seven to eight teams from Oregon would advance to worlds, but this year only two teams were able to advance — West Linn's 2BDetermiend and ToborTech.

"This year is the most competitive year — only 2% of the teams worldwide get to advance to the world (championship). We are very proud of what the students have achieved," said lead coach of ToborTech, Wan-Shu Lu.

Out of 7,000 robotics teams competing for a slot across North America, only 160 earned their tickets to Houston. During the championship, the teams were divided into two divisions — Franklin and Jemison — and each team competed in eight matches. ToborTech was part of the Franklin Division.

During the first day of matches, ToborTech ended the day with the second-highest score in the Franklin division. But on day two, after an alliance penalty and one mechanical failure, the team was knocked down a few pegs before the last day of matches where they won six out of eight matches and ended in 14th place.

The top 4 ranked teams then selected their alliance teams to compete for division semifinals and division finals. Following that, the winning alliances from each division competed against each other to take the world championship crown. ToborTech was not selected by any of the four alliance captains.

The team mentor Milton Kokubun was honored as a finalist for the Compass Award, which recognizes an adult coach or mentor who has provided outstanding guidance and support for a team throughout the year and demonstrates what it means to be a "gracious professional." The team was also a finalist for the Control Award, which is given to groups that demonstrate usage of intelligence and innovation in utilizing sensors and image recognition to control their robots.

"Overall, it was a great learning opportunity for all that hopefully translates into an even better robot next year and another trip to Houston. The team was very excited about the event and had good participation in various activities," said Lu. "(The team) met many teams from different parts of the country and the world, and even practiced their foreign language skills. What the competition brings is really beyond the robots."

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