Viking robotics team profits from experience against worldwide competition

Vale High School Robotics team member Porter McKrola puts the a robot through its paces before a group of Nyssa Middle School students. The Vale Robotics Team recently returned from the VEX Robotics World Championship tournament in Kentucky. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

VALE – Briggs Marvin didn’t waste any words regarding the VEX Robotics World Championship tournament.

“It was quite awesome, honestly,” said Marvin.

Marvin joined Viking teammates Porter McKrola, Japheth Carlson and Jacob Maxwell last month in Kentucky where the top student robotics teams in the world competed.

Everything about the tournament was big – the competition, the venue, and the stakes in terms of world recognition, said Jim Schaffeld, the Vikings robotics team instructor.

“It was a tremendous experience to compete at that level,” said Schaffeld.

The Vale team finished 73rd out of 95 teams in the science division.

The team competed with a 12-pound robot powered by batteries and made of steel, aluminum, electrical wire, wheels, tiny motors and shafts.

“The competition was fierce,” said Schaffeld.

Schaffeld said that the top robot team in Oregon – from Sandy High School – finished 25th in its division.

The Vale team qualified for the world championship competition knocking off the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds at the state tournament in Salem in April.

More than 40 teams from around the world were on hand at the expo center for the four-day competition. The tournament was about competition, but it was also about the experience, said Schaffeld. Carlson, a junior, agreed. Each team from each country fanned out across the floor of the expo center and set up booths just outside the competition area. Marvin said part of the fun of the tournament was visiting those booths and meeting people from different nations.

“One of my favorites was the people from Puerto Rico. They were nice guys,” said Marvin.

Marvin also said the competition was tough.

“But I’d say we went and enjoyed seeing what others from around the world created,” said Marvin. McKrola said the experience was an eye-opener.

“There were a lot of robots,” he said.

Carlson said he felt the team did well.

“We are still a new program and the other teams have been there,” said Carlson.

Carlson said he was surprised by how tight-knit and friendly the robotics community was at the tournament.

“Everyone came together to promote their team and their country. And that pumped me up,” said Carlson.

Marvin said while the Vale team didn’t claim any top honors, that wasn’t really the point.

“We went to have fun and we did,” said Marvin.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.