Tualatin robotics shares victories, struggle

Ava Wittman, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Although the season has come to a close, we here at The Wolf decided to sit down with Tualatin High School’s home VEX robotics team to learn a little bit more about, and give a little more attention to, this very impressive team. 

Each year, the team collaborates throughout the early fall to build a robot that will be able to compete in a game as decided by VEX. The game varies every year, so an entirely new bot must be created each season. The team works to take the bot from the design phase to building it, programming it and recording and posting the entire process online on their social media pages. 

“It’s chaos, and we always start out incredibly unorganized, but as time goes on a structure is formed. It’s always a struggle to get the robot done in time for the first competition, but we always get it done,” senior and driver for the team Eric Blaettler said. 

Tualatin has had a fair bit of success in years past, qualifying for state and even nationals on several occasions. 

And these successes come at a deficit: while most other schools are able to start the design phase of the process over the summer, here at Tualatin, they are not permitted to start until classes have begun in the fall.

“The theme for each season is announced in July, and other robotics teams usually meet during the summer, which gives them an advantage for the entire season. Unfortunately, we have to hit the ground running as soon as school starts if we want to have a chance at our early competitions,” sophomore and engineer on the team Bergen Lien said. 

This season, the team took great strides in formalizing their structure. Several years ago, the team was composed of a handful of members that were able to produce one bot each year. Over the past few seasons, recruitment and enrollment have increased enough to build a more systematic structure. 

“We have two separate teams, one for seniors members and the other for new members,” senior and engineer/coder for the team Reyne Miller said. “The senior team, which I’m on, is comprised of about 10 people. We have a main engineer and coder and few who help them, but we also have a media team who handles our social media accounts and general planning.” 

This structure has paid off, too. The team is making progress in terms of performance in competition. 

“[Our] proudest moment was definitely qualifying for state this year. In our previous year, we were just trying to survive during competitions, but this year we were able to make a bot that could actually compete with the other high-qualifying bots. It definitely gave us an idea of how much we had improved,” Miller continued.

The team has undoubtedly faced some trials and tribulations this year, however. They were unable to attend state, which they had qualified for. 

“Many of our final competitions were canceled by snow, especially state, so we were unable to end our season properly,” senior and engineer Benjamin Wyland said.

Although the team was unable to end their season as they wanted to, they still made time for fun among the hard work. 

“My favorite memory was when our whole team came together to eat the world’s hottest chocolate bar. People’s reactions were pretty funny, but it was also just fun to hang out as a group,” Miller said.