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Mechanical Maniacs: Douglas County robotics team wins national competition

The Mechanical Maniacs, a robotics team representing Douglas County, went undefeated at the World FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition in Houston, Texas, April 21, 2018. (Photo by Jim Salchenburg)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Josiah, Issac, and Kolhton look like regular teenagers hanging out after school.

But their group, Mechanical Maniacs, went undefeated at the World FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition in Houston, Texas last weekend.

"We thought we were going to do okay, pretty well, and then we just won match after match after match," recalled Kohlton Kuczler, "and then, by the end, we ended up winning the entire thing with our great alliances."

With the help of their robot, they competed in front of thousands of people and beat out 128 teams in their division.

The kids also give credit to their mentor, Jim Salchenburg.

"It's never been one of motivating them to work on the robot," said Salchenburg, "it's been, really, communication. So, a lot of my support for them has been learning interpersonal conflict."

And Salchenburg is proud the Mechanical Maniacs were able to put Douglas County on the worldwide map. "It's real tremendous for this community to get the support for other teams and inspire other teams and other folks in this community."

The team says they've learned some important lessons along the way.

"The learning of the design and the building to the competition, and also cooperating with not only your own teammates, but with other teams," explained Issac Salchenburg.

The Mechanical Maniacs plan to mentor younger kids in the community so maybe one day they can be world champions too.

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