Ready for a challenge

Camas-based FIRST team heads to state on Saturday

A FIRST Tech Challenge Team with roots in Camas were all smiles as they celebrated being selected to compete in this year’s state championship.

The team, which includes senior Aidan Lyons, coach Natalie Janson, senior Samantha Guthrie and freshman Alexis Howard, was chosen after the Watt Interleague Championship in Tacoma in January. They were one of nine teams to advance out of 33. “Dream Machine” will head to Kent on Saturday to compete at the ShoWare Center.

As part FIRST Tech Challenge, teams design, build, program and operate robots.

Janson, a third-grade teacher in Battle Ground, has been a part of various FIRST programs as a student, coach, mentor and volunteer for seven years. She explained that the program’s focus extends beyond competition.

“FIRST encourages its participants to influence their communities and their world in positive ways,” she said. “All students act within ‘gracious professional’ behavior, where they work together to solve problems even when you are helping a team that is competing against you.”

Dream Machine was chosen to advance to the state tournament because of their “gracious and professional attitudes during competition, willingness to help others and community involvement,” Janson said.

The members are all Camas High School students, although the team is not affiliated with the school. According to Janson, they advocate for greater representation of gender and LGBTQ-plus in engineering, math and technology fields.