Mckenzie River Gathering of Robots (MRGR)

2018 marks MRGR’s inaugural year. This gathering of Oregon robotics teams is an exciting day of networking, education, technology, knowledge transfer and general robot fun. Presenters and teams from all over the state will share knowledge and techniques via workshops, robot demonstrations, and academic/technical posters. Free to the public, the event is being hosted at the UO Ford Alumni Center. The event aims to share knowledge and skills with teams that don’t have access to resource-rich hubs, and to help connect students with industry professionals interested in finding and developing talent to fill next-gen jobs. More information can be found here.

Go Baby Go

Inspired by the Go Baby Go initiative, SERT modified toy ride-on trucks to be used as alternative transportation for children with limited mobility. SERT developed a design for modifying the trucks that allows them to be controlled with a joystick (smooth acceleration and zero turn radius) instead of a button press (no movement to immediate full power). The joystick trucks provide fun therapy, practice with a joystick that can help kids qualify for an electric wheelchair, and allow children to “run” around with their friends. SERT’s instructions for the joystick modifications having been downloaded worldwide, and are available here.

City Synth

Last summer, SERT worked with Harmonic Laboratory, XS Media City and other groups to turn the streets of Eugene into a musical instrument. Called City Synth, collaborators used code written by our software team to transmit video of different streets in Eugene. The video was recorded via Raspberry Pis with attached cameras and streamed to a centralized computer where users mixed tracks into their own creation. Our electrical team also assisted by testing video streaming solutions. The project was funded by a Mozilla grant after Eugene was chosen as one of five Mozilla Gigabit cities in the U.S. It was featured as the first stop on Eugene’s monthly First Friday Artwalk and will become an exhibit at the Eugene Science Center. Find out more about City Synth here

Ophelia’s Place – Supporting Women in STEM

Since our team’s inception, SERT has not only supported women in STEM, our team has models this concept – more than 50% all captains/leads in team history have been women, and currently we five of our eight leads are women. Every year, our team selects projects aimed at inspiring women in STEM fields. For several years, we’ve taught an 8-week long class at Ophelia’s Place in CAD, an organization that supports girls in the community. During the summer, we taught one week of full-day programming and CAD classes. We’ve also donated four desktop computers to this organization for educational use, in addition to laptops for use in the course.

To encourage girls in our community to explore STEM and FIRST, we run demonstrations at Ophelia’s Place’s Girls Rule! and Girl Con events, as well as at SPICE camp, a girls’ science camp at the University of Oregon.

Check out Ophelia’s Place here

Our team also often attends networking events with female professionals, such as the Oregon State University Women in Engineering Dinner, and the Women In Science and Engineering Symposium.

Spencer Butte Middle School Robotics Mentoring

Encouraging middle schoolers to explore the world of robotics is a great way to stimulate interest in STEM – and to a pipeline of skilled, interested team members ready to take on the exciting challenges of building bigger robots in high school team! Our team meets with a local middle school’s FIRST Lego League team every Friday to help them prepare for their upcoming competition season. SERT team members work with the younger students on a variety of tasks, including game design and robot construction.


A small two-wheeled robot the size of a small backpack, HeadBot balances itself using a series of rapid forward and backward motions. Find him rolling around at various events around town rocking a totally-not-creepy styrofoam head and wearing one of his many stylish costumes. Headbot is fun to drive for people of all ages and is a great way for us to get more people excited about STEM and robotics!

A our code and a list of parts can be found here.

Software Tools

SERT has built many tools over the years to make various tasks faster and easier, all of which are open-source and shareable across FIRST. Here are just a few:

  1. Robot Scouter is a simple yet powerful Android scouting app with customizable scouting templates and advanced spreadsheet exporting for painless data analysis.

  2. The Attendance Client is a cross-platform desktop app built with Firebase and React to make keeping track of team members’ hours a piece of cake.

  3. Vision processing code for single-board computers such as the Raspberry Pi or for the roboRIO.

Ongoing Community Demonstrations

SERT maintains its longstanding partnerships with the community by frequently participating in events that raise awareness of FIRST and STEM values.

We participate in the Mini Maker Faire at the Eugene Science Center, our local children’s science museum. Each year, more than 50 kids of all ages drive our robot and learn about FIRST.

Our team sets up a popular hands-on exhibit for three days at the well-attended Lane County Fair and gives community members the opportunity to drive our robots, an annual SERT event.

At the Oregon State Fair and at DaVinci Days, we participate in a FIRST exhibit with our robot and teach children and parents from around the state about FIRST and the opportunities available to FIRST teams.

Our team teaches summer camps through UO SPICE, and organization that inspires girls to explore STEM fields. This year, we participated in their very well attended Fall open house, where dozens of kids got the opportunity to drive our championship robot Poe.

Our team has had the chance to participate in other interesting outreach events as well. For example, our team was invited to the Second Star Festival in Florence, Oregon where we gave TED-style talks and demonstrated a previous season’s robot design. We’ve also participated in the Barnes & Noble Maker Faire and taught many children about robotics.