Robotics team lets kids take the wheel


James Favot

Members from all four FTC teams piloted their robots at the Tigard Library on Sunday. Visitors had the opportunity to pilot the robots for themselves and learn more about Tigard’s robotics team.

By James Favot, Copy Editor

     The flashing lights and whirrs and beeps caught the eyes and ears of many at the Tigard Library. Tigard’s First Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics teams showed off their tournament-ready robots in the library’s community room on Sunday.

     “This is an attempt by the tech team to reach out to the community and inspire the next generation of people who may be interested in STEM,” junior Brandon Liang said. Liang is co-captain and lead programmer of “Twisted Metal,” one of Tigard’s four FTC teams.

     The teams demonstrated their robots’ ability to pick up, move, and stack blocks, then handed off the controllers to kids eager to take the robots for a test drive.

     “It’s really fun to show the robots off to little kids and… it’s fun to teach them [how to drive the robots],” junior Kimberly Yeo said. Yeo is team leader of “Pac-Bots” and loves reaching out to the community in events like this one.

     Students join Tigard’s robotics team for various reasons. For junior Isabella Holt, co-builder for “Pac-Bots,” the work she does for the team is a fun hobby.

     “I like building stuff and hanging out with friends,” Holt said.

     For others, FTC is an opportunity to gain valuable STEM experience and life skills that carry over to other careers.

     “It’s not just making the robot; it’s learning how to work with a team,” Yeo said. “[FTC] is like a team-building club.”

     Especially since some schools in the Tigard-Tualatin area do not have a robotics team of their own, the FTC event at the library provided a unique chance for kids of all ages to explore this pathway.