Nine Area FTC Teams Advance to SQs

Congratulations to the nine Gorge FIRST TECH Challenge teams that made it to the Oregon SuperQualifiers (SQs)! Teams competed in League Championships on Jan. 16 at Hood River Valley High School. The teams heading to the SQs on February 13 & 14 are the Bazinga! Bots, Sa-BOT-Age, and KillaBots from The Dalles High School; Occam’s Razor, SteelHead, Men in Green, and the FigNewtons from Hood River Valley High School, the RoboHawks from Horizon Christian, and The Shermanators from Sherman County Jr-Sr High School. View the full results from the League Championships here. Winners from the SQs will go to the Oregon state championship tournament at the end of February.

Congratulations to all the teams and good luck!

FTC Tournament in Hood River this weekend!

Hood River Valley High School will be hosting a FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament this weekend. This is the third annual tournament our region has hosted for the FTC level.  This is a strong indication of the strength of our robotics programs in the Gorge!

Volunteers are still needed for the event. If you’re interested, please contact Jeff Blackman (

The national FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) program is a mid-level robotics competition that provides an opportunity for 7th – 12th grade students. Like FLL, FTC is an excellent way to experience the power, excitement, and fun of science, technology, engineering, and math and gain insights in the possibility of a technical career. Team members get involved in the design, implementation, and programming of a robot to participate in a challenge in competition and cooperation with robots from other teams.

For  more information on the Oregon tournaments and programs visit  For National information, and an animnation of the challenge, visit

Over 300 kids aged 9 to 14 from schools all around the Gorge showed off their robotic talents in early December as part of the international robotics competition known as FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL). Fifty-three student teams worked over the past several months to compete in one of the Columbia Gorge Qualifying Tournaments held December 5 at The Dalles Middle School and December 12 and 13 at Wy’east Middle School.

These events are held locally by the Gorge Technology Alliance (GTA) with support from Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, North Wasco County School District 21, Hood River County School District, Hood River County Education Foundation and White Salmon Valley Education Foundation. Local event sponsors include Google, Cardinal Glass, Hood Technology, Boeing, Insitu, John Gerstenberger, Prigel Machine & Fabrication, Innovative Composite Engineering, Coco Yackley, Electronic Assemblers, Inc., ROY-G-BIV, Oregon Tech, Zepher, Stanley Heinemann, Matt Wheeler, Eric Strid, and Kinetics, Inc. Google also provides significant funding to support the Columbia Gorge robotics teams through Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program.

At the Gorge FLL tournaments, teams demonstrated their robot’s capabilities on the competition table, were interviewed by a robot design panel, presented their Trash Trek research project and were assessed on teamwork skills in the FLL Core Values judging panel. The teams impressed the judges, referees and tournament volunteers with their knowledge and teamwork. Each single-day tournament generates its own separate award winners and several teams that will advance to the state tournaments. The Gorge FLL award winners from all three tournaments include:

  • Rising Star award: Westside Bigfoot Inc. from Westside Elementary, Fluffy Pink Unicorns from Mid Valley Elementary.
  • Core Values award: Ike Iha from Trout Lake School, Trash Talkers from Westside Elementary, W.I.T Don’t Panic from May Street Elementary.
  • Project award: Iha Ike from Trout Lake School, Couch Potatoes from Henkle Middle School, May Street Robo-Dragons from May Street Elementary.
  • Robot Design award: Fusion X from Wasco County 4H/The Dalles Middle School, Jawas from Henkle Middle School, Bell-BOTt-oms from May Street Elementary.
  • Robot Performance award: Pandroids from Wy’east Middle School, Eco Ninjas from Goldendale Middle School, Nuclear Recyclers from May Street Elementary.

After a full day of competition, the overall top teams were chosen to advance to the Oregon State Tournaments on January 9 or 10 in Hillsboro. The fourteen teams from the Gorge heading to Hillsboro include:

  • Overall 1st Place Champions: League of LEGOs from Horizon Christian School, Banana Bot Builders from Fisher’s Landing neighborhood (Vancouver), Hood River Brick Bots – a Hood River neighborhood team.
  • Overall 2nd Place Champions: Pandroids from Wy’east Middle School, The Gears from Henkle Middle School, Nuclear Recyclers from May Street Elementary.
  • Additional top teams that advanced to the state tournament: Iha Ike from Trout Lake School, Fusion X  and System Overload from Wasco County 4H, Eco Ninjas from Goldendale Middle School, Bottle Busters and Trash Busters from Klickitat Schools, W.I.T. Don’t Panic from May Street Elementary, Techno Salmon – a Hood River neighborhood team.

FTC Volunteers Needed

The Columbia Gorge FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) event organizers are looking for a number of volunteers to help with the 2015-16 season events. All events will be held in Hood River to support teams from both sides of the Gorge. Volunteers are needed for the League Meets and the Qualifying Tournament. Details follow: Continue Reading »

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