'Back at full strength': Wilsonville robotics returns
Behind a plexiglass wall, senior Pauline Petersen and sophomore Holly Boling hunched over a homemade control center equipped with a circuit board and video game controller while maneuvering a robot across a gymnasium-turned-battlefield.
On Saturday, Oct. 9, students from across the state gathered in the Wilsonville High School gymnasium to compete in the 2021 Robot Rodeo, a warm-up event for the official competition season set to start in early January. Twenty-four teams competed in a series of rounds, where robots pushed foam balls through goals and dead-lifted on metal beams.
Petersen and Boling were just two members of Wilsonville High School's 55-person robotics team, Error Code Xero. Due to COVID-19, the team modified its 2019 robot, Spitfire, for competition but will start constructing its 2021-22 robot in the coming weeks and announce it formally in 2022.
"It's an event we use to help the new people get used to what a season will look like, before we roll into January, which is when the new season starts," the team's software mentor Jack Griffin said.
Just two weeks ago the team only had 12 members, but it has surged "back to full strength" at 55 students, according to Stowell.
"It's great to see them get excited about STEM," Griffin said, "And it's incredible to see them going from a freshman, and not having the confidence to do anything, to designing these machines."
As the team's robot scored four consecutive shots during the Oct. 9 event, freshman Asher Barskey sat in anticipation on crowded bleachers peppered with community members.
Barskey joined the robotics team a few weeks ago and is a part of the mechanical team, which leads the efforts in making the robot. Although it wasn't an "official" game day, he was excited to be part of the team.
"My sister was on the team, and it just sounded fun," he said. "I also used to build robots with my dad and this is kind of a reminiscence of that."
As "The Final Countdown" blared through the gym's speakers, teams huddled together to quickly strategize their next steps before entering the final round of games.
In a best two-out-of-three showdown, Error Code Xero reigned as winners with a total of 111 points.
"We've been putting a lot of hours in. So I think we're all pretty excited with the results," the team's business lead, Katelyn LeBlanc, said.
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