Contacts:
Cathy Swider, Operations Director, Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, 503-725-2920 (office); 971-219-1020 (cell); Cathy_Swider@ous.edu
Bruce Schafer, Executive Director, Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, 503-332-4666 (cell); bruce@schafer.net

PORTLAND, April 29, 2014 – A high school robotics team from Bethany, Oregon, won the top award at the international robotics tournament for FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) in St. Louis, Missouri this weekend, rising to the top among thousands of teams worldwide. Globally, FTC has 4,000 teams in 16 countries, with 128 of these teams advancing to the FTC World Championship. Teams competed in qualifying and regional tournaments in their home states and countries, with the best teams moving forward to attend the World tournament. The local team “Hot Wired” proved to be a fierce competitor at the Championship, defeating the competition to be named World Championship Winning Alliance – Captain. This 15-student team is now considered the top FTC robot performance team in the world for the 2013-14 season.
Eleven Oregon robotics teams competed last week at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, from April 23-26. Four events geared for different age and achievement levels comprise the Championship; the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship, FIRST Tech Challenge Championship, the FIRST LEGO League World Championship and the Junior FIRST LEGO League World Showcase. In addition to “Hot Wired,” a number of other talented Portland and Beaverton teams took home impressive awards at the World Championship, including students from Lincoln High School, Glencoe High School, Catlin Gabel School, Westview High School, Springville Elementary, Jacob Wismer Elementary and Stoller Middle School.

"We're all very proud of how well Oregon's teams did this year,” said Bruce Schafer, Executive Director of Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program. "Their accomplishments make us optimistic that they will go on to rewarding careers in science and engineering and help solve the world's many challenges."

The “Hot Wired” team is comprised of 15 students ranging in age from 12 to 15, who are all FTC rookies but seasoned veterans of Oregon's Junior FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League programs, with most of them involved since elementary school. “Hot Wired” is a community team of students from Meadow Park Middle School, Stoller Middle School, Westview High school, and Sunset High School in the Beaverton School District.

When asked what they were most proud of, team members focused on engineering problem-solving, collaboration, and the complexity of their robot. “Hot Wired” team member Steven said, “Certainly winning such a prestigious award at the international level was an amazing honor, but what was even cooler was how our team, consisting of 15 members of very different personalities managed to come together harmoniously and learn so much from the robotics experience, gaining insight in the thriving field of STEM.” Team member Rahul said, “I am proud of being able to build such a complex robot, being able to know what parts play what role in how the robot functions, and how to make constant changes based on problems that we have found. These three things are the basics to the field of engineering: designing, building, and improving.”

Though the team members range from 7th grade to sophomore level and are not yet applying to colleges, some students have already set their sights on high-tech careers. Team captain Adam, said, “Winning this competition has fueled my interest for future careers in engineering.” And team member Neha added, “The many STEM skills we have learned will definitely prove useful in the future. Science fair project? Robotic arm? No problem! Many members of our team discovered their passion for engineering, tinkering, or programming. But even if we don't decide to pursue a career in STEM, there are still all of the core values that we have learned from this experience. Gracious professionalism, leadership, teamwork... these are things that we will ALWAYS use.”

The tournament competition structure is similar to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament with all the action taking place under one roof in three days. The 128 competing teams are divided into two divisions named for Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin. Teams advanced from four USA Super-Regional or other International Regional tournaments based on judged awards and robot performance awards. The competition culminates when the two winning division alliances compete against each other to determine the winner of the FTC World Championship. “Hot Wired” was ranked first in Franklin division after qualification rounds on Friday, April 25th, and Oregon’s “Team AFOOFA”, from Portland, ranked 2nd in the Edison division. After qualification matches end, the top teams from each division chose two alliance partners to join them for the playoff elimination round. “Hot Wired” selected “Eagles Robotics XPerience” from Florida and “4-H Techno Clovers” from Maryland to be part of their winning alliance. Their robot effectively scored blocks into baskets, raised a flag and hung from a three-foot bar with their alliance partner racking up big points. The team even set a world scoring record of 448 points with the Eagles during the qualification matches. “Hot Wired” and their partners went undefeated winning the Franklin Division, and then convincingly defeated the Edison Division alliance in two matches, to be crowned FTC World Championship Winning Alliance.

Oregon's FTC Team from Lincoln High School in Portland, called “The Nanites,” was awarded the Control Award to honor their outstanding autonomous programming. The Control Award celebrates a team that uses software to enhance the robot’s functionality on the field. Oregon's “Batteries in Black” from Westview High School in Beaverton and “Hot Wired” were finalists for this inaugural award.

In the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship, “Shockwave” from Glencoe High School in Hillsboro were the silver medal Galileo Division Finalist Alliance in the robot performance events. The team was the top ranked team in the Pacific NW District at the conclusion of regional events. The “Flaming Chickens” from Catlin Gabel School in Portland was awarded the Archimedes Division - Innovation in Control Award celebrating an innovative control system or application of control components to provide unique machine functions. FIRST Robotics Competition has 2700 teams globally in 13 countries.

At the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) World Festival occurring at the FIRST World Championship the FLL “Brick Busters” from Springville Elementary, Jacob Wismer Elementary and Stoller Middle School won the 2nd Place Gracious Professional award. This award recognizes a team whose members show each other and other teams respect at all times. A total of 80 teams out of 25,000 FLL teams located in 70 countries who participated in this year's Nature's Fury Challenge advanced to the World Festival.
For more information about FIRST programs visit www.usfirst.org. In Oregon, visit www.ortop.org

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