student working on a robot

Catlin Gabel's engineering and robotics program involves students with real-world engineering, computer science, design, math, and applied physics. The team and project-management skills learned here last a lifetime. 

Engineering is one of the largest extracurricular activities in the Upper School, with more than ten percent of the study body taking part, and about 40 percent of participants are female. Students can join starting in the 8th grade.


All skill levels are welcome to join the robotics team, known as the "Flaming Chickens." In fact, before joining, most members had never used the majority of the tools available in our lab.

Students are split into sub-teams early in the school year and begin working with mechanical, software, electronics design and fabrication, website development, animation, computer-aided design, video production, marketing, graphic design, and public relations. In the fall, students compete in the first competition, BunnyBots, to develop the skills necessary for the nationwide FIRST Robotics competition, held in January, where students build 130-pound robots from scratch, using aluminum, steel, electronics, and pneumatics. They are programmed in Java. In many ways, this program operates like a small company, with students leading various departments. More information about the program can be found on the student-designed robotics website

community engineering

This group works independently and with nonprofits, corporations, and other organizations to use engineering skills to solve a variety of problems. The team has won more than $60,000 in prizes over the years for their efforts. Past projects include water transportation and disinfection in developing countries, engineering tools that support employment prospects for the disabled, and bringing light through solar power to individuals in Portland who were previously houseless.

more information

Registration opens every September 1. For information and questions, please contact Dale Yocum, Engineering Program Director. Additional details are available through these organizations:

National First Robotics Competition
Oregon Robotics and Tournament Program

FIRST Washington (organizes all Pacific Northwest programs)

Students Take First in National Source America Design Challenge Competition

In 20-21, the Engineering Program was fully remote. Multiple student-led teams worked on different projects. The ZipBag team beat out other national high schools and documented how they used their robotics knowledge to bring the idea to life in the below video.