High school students from Camas, Discovery, Hockinson and Washougal high schools went to Houston, Texas to compete in the FIRST Robotics World Championship. Over 35,000 people attend this event that boosts six game fields and around 450 teams from around the world. The Camas area team, Team 2741, or Team Mean Machine as they dubbed themselves, consists of 45, 14-18-year-old high schoolers.

The road to the World Championships was littered with trophies, including a competition in Wilsonville, Oregon, where they were given the Chairman’s Award for their efforts to spread STEM opportunities in their community. “The team is involved in lots of different community projects such as the Infinite Resource project, where we mass produced and donated over 22,000 units of PPE during the shortage at the beginning of the pandemic, and the Power Pivot project, where we designed a device for helping people with limited mobility,” shares Fable Ager, vice president of Team Mean Machine. The team has been involved in a lot of community events as well, including Camas Days, Hockinson Fun Days, Washougal School District’s STRIDE and OMSI’s Makerfaire. Their robot t-shirt cannon makes an appearance at their schools’ football games. All to help get people interested in the STEM and robots. “We also have hosted STEM events such as our Hockinson Demo Days where we provided a variety of STEM activities like LEGO robot programming, doodle bots, and binary name bracelets to middle and elementary schoolers,” he continues. “Another way we help our community is by providing a full-size practice field for local Portland-area teams to use for tuning and drive practice–it’s the only such field in the Portland community and has been shared with other world-class teams.”

Then, the Team again came home with a trophy at the Pacific Northwest Championship in Cheney, Washington, where they took home third place as well as the Industrial Design Award. “The Industrial Design Award celebrates the team that demonstrates industrial design principles, striking a balance between form, function, and aesthetics,” shares Ager. “We constantly push one of the FIRST community’s core values, gracious professionalism, seeking to mimic a professional organization or company, such as a tech startup. This is reflected in our clean and efficient robots.”

Out of more than 4,000 teams worldwide, these accomplishments gave Team Mean Machine one of those coveted spots at the World Championships. There, Teams are put together to form alliances made of three Teams. They then compete against another alliance for the qualification matches. Next comes the elimination matches where the top seeded teams get to pick their alliance members. Team Mean Machine was chosen by one of the top seeded teams to join their alliance. They went on to be the 2022 Roebling Division World Champions.

Ager has been involved in robotics since middle school. He competed in FIRST LEGO League as well as FIRST Tech Challenge before getting into the FIRST Robotics Tech Challenge. “I would say that the most important thing I have learned from being on the team is how to coordinate a bunch of subteams—design, mechanical, and programming–to all work simultaneously toward one goal. This is a really great skill because of how it translates to real-world business operations.”

The team is open to any high school student at Camas, Discovery, Hockinson, and Washougal high schools, regardless of their experience.

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