Robotics & Engineering

robotics and engineering director, kevin forbes speaking with student in front of 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. It is also diverse, representing different ages, genders,and skill levels. Students from 8-12th grade join, about 40 percent of which are female, and most have never used any of the tools in our lab. Registration opens in early September.


Our Robotics team, known as the "Flaming Chickens," gets to work just after the beginning of the school year and skills are quickly put to the test with the fall competition, BunnyBots. This event helps them prepare for the national FIRST Robotics competition that occurs in January in which they create a 130-pound robot from scratch. Students quickly form sub-teams where they can work on mechanical, software, and electronics design, video production, marketing, graphic design, and public relations. They use aluminum, steel, electronics, and pneumatics to create the robot, and the systems are programmed in Java. In many ways, the program operates like a small company with students leading various departments. For more information about the program visit the student-designed Upper School robotics website.

Community Engineering

The program is about more than robots. The team has won over $60,000 in prizes for its community engineering work that has devised solutions to problems as varied as water transportation and disinfection in developing countries, engineering projects that help the employment prospects of the disabled, to bringing solar power and light to the previously houseless in Portland.

Important Links

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 won first place. The team documented how they used their robotics knowledge to bring the idea to life in the below video.