Vale robotics students are headed to state championships

A Vale High School robotics student makes a few tweaks on a robot he custom built and programmed for the Vex Robotics Competition held in Vale last week. (The Enterprise/Kristine de Leon)

VALE – The Vale High School robotics club went into high gear at the second annual Vex Robotics Competition hosted by the high school Friday, Feb. 8. 

The Vale robotics club competed against 23 teams from five high schools, mostly from Idaho. Vale and Ukiah High Schools were the only Oregon teams.

The Vale team is coached by the high school robotics instructor Jim Schaffeld.

For Friday’s competition, teams had to program their robotics to flip objects, climb, and throw balls at a target, said Vale sophomore George Mendieta of Team 41198A. 

“Our robot is able to expand, and it’s one of the tallest ones we have seen. It’s able to put the caps on the top post, which no one has been able to do before,” said Mendieta, as he demonstrated his team’s robot. 

“It’s a pretty fast robot for its size, and it can flip caps pretty efficiently,” said Mendieta. 

Mendieta’s team included Jonas Grout and Jacob Maxwell, both sophomores.

To prepare for the VEX robotics competitions, the students designed, built, and programmed their robots from the ground up and then went head-to-head in tournaments and challenges. 

On Friday, Vale senior Japheth Carlson and sophomore Jacob Graviet’s team was crowned tournament champions with 28 points. 

“This is the second highest score in Oregon this year and they are tied for 37th in the world,” said Jim Schaffeld, Vale robotics instructor.

The team of Jessi Arriola, Jacqueline Marquez and Porter McKrola and the team of Justin Buhrig and Blake Reed were also top finishers at the competition.

The three Vale teams qualified for the Oregon State Robotics Championships, scheduled for March 8-9 in Salem.

The top finishers there compete at the Vex Robotics World Championship in Kentucky.