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South Eugene Robotics Team first in state, hoping for bid to international competition

The South Eugene Robotics team gathering around a robot and holding a trophy
South Eugene Robotics Team
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SERT
The South Eugene Robotics Team took first place at the Oregon State Fair FRC event on Mar. 25, 2023.

The South Eugene Robotics Team is heading to the Pacific Northwest District Championship in Cheney, Washington on Wednesday.

On the line is a bid to the international “For Inspiration and Recognition of Technology” FIRST Robotics Competition championship in Houston.

SERT is a community high school robotics team working out of South Eugene High School. They nabbed first place at the Oregon State Fair FRC event in March, finishing their regular season ranked first in Oregon and 3rd in the Pacific Northwest.

SERT will need to be in the top 50 at the PNW Championship to move on to the international competition.

SERT co-captain and South Eugene High School senior Felix Halaska said the team’s performance this year is “particularly gratifying because the nearly two-year COVID hiatus was really disruptive.”

Halaska noted that FIRST teams rely on experienced students to teach new students the skills to build and program the robot. With the pandemic disruptions, there were fewer opportunities for newer students to learn from the more experienced students.

Meira Griffel, a fellow senior at SEHS and SERT team member said this year was the team’s “best robot performance to date.” She added that, despite the obstacles, the team “pulled together and had a great season last year. And this year has been mind-blowing.”

Organizers of the team say the building of a 150-pound robot from the ground up gives students a hands-on opportunity to learn and practice mechanical engineering, electronics, programming, computer-aided design, and business skills. Students must work together, developing problem-solving and communication skills as they build and compete.

The top 600 teams from around the world will compete at the FRC Championship Apr. 19-22 in Houston. More than 3,200 FRC teams competed across the country this year, with SERT ending its regular season in the top 2% of teams.

A crowd of onlookers sit in bleachers, the SERT supporters wearing purple and waving a flag
Tom Cardinali
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South Eugene Robotics Team
Onlookers cheer on the South Eugene Robotics Team at the Oregon State Fair FRC Event on Mar. 25, 2023.
Students work on a robot
South Eugene Robotics Team
SERT members work on a robot during the Oregon State Fair FRC event on Mar. 25, 2023

Love Cross joined KLCC in 2017. She began her public radio career as a graduate student, serving as Morning Edition Host for Boise State Public Radio in the late 1990s. She earned her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Communication from University of California at Davis, and her Master’s Degree from Boise State University. In addition to her work in public radio, Love teaches college-level courses in Communication and Sociology.