Tag Archives: Oregon

Grinding the Gears: Inside and Outside of Robotics

Students line up around the stacks of wood. “Let’s get going guys,” the team co-captain says.

Each person picks up a different tool and begins assembling an exact replication of the blueprints the students created before the six-week building period. Quickly, the robotics arm is nestled into position.

SERT is the robotics team at South Eugene High School and is compromised of approximately 20 students with just as many different personalities. Each student contributes skills in distinct backgrounds to attribute to the success of the program.

“Outside of robotics, I enjoy reading, writing poetry, and riding horses,” says Perrin Dunn, 16. “It’s a really good experience because I’ve never been in any clubs before.”

"Having students interested in different things works out well for us," Kelly says. Each student brings a different background and contributes a diverse skill set to the team. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

“Having students interested in different things works out well for us,” Kelly says. Each student brings a different background and contributes a diverse skill set to the team. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

By delving into the meticulous realm of circuitry, SERT provides its students a way to get hands-on experience with teamwork, mathematics, and engineering in an academic setting before entering the real world.

Marcus Hall, the Head Programmer for SERT, uses the education he received through SERT to venture outside the realm of academia and share his passion for science and electrical work to elementary students at the Science Factory, a local children’s museum and planetarium in Eugene, Oregon.

Marcus Hall, SERT captain and head programmer, measures a piece of wood that that will eventually become a target for their demonstrations. Outside of SERT, Hall teaches robotics to elementary and middle school students in the Eugene area. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Marcus Hall, SERT captain and head programmer, measures a piece of wood that that will eventually become a target for their demonstrations. Outside of SERT, Hall teaches robotics to elementary and middle school students in the Eugene area. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

In addition to teaching at the Science Factory, Hall teaches robotics to elementary school students at the Science Factory as well as with the Talented and Gifted program at the University of Oregon, a community outreach program dedicated to advanced education among K-12 students through U of O’s College of Education.

Through his work at the Science Factory, Hall is gaining invaluable leadership and teaching experience that he can incorporate into his team captain position with the SERT team.

Head coach and mentor Brian Kelly believes that having a strong and organized leader is quintessential to the six-week building season. It helps strengthen the team both from leadership and teaching standpoints.

During the non-building season, students take their skills to other areas of the school and invest them into classes and programs such as the Stagecraft class in which they construct the stages and sets for each play. This helps maintain their building dexterity during the off-season, as well as keeps the students in a team setting.

Sandra Lui uses a different take to practice her skills by leading the SERT public relations team. Outside of the building season, Lui travels with Hall to lobby the state legislature for more funding for FIRST Robotics. She feels that having a team dedicated to seeking funding for the program is an essential part of a successful robotics program now and in the future.

Even though the students excel far beyond the minimum requirements to preserve their team, for the future of SERT to travel down the path of least resistance, the team must over come a large hurdle recently set forth by the City of Eugene.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the City of Eugene has proposed a bond measure that could potentially harm the SERT program. Measure 20-201, a $170 million bond measure that would replace four aging school buildings, would eliminate Roosevelt Middle School, the current workspace for SERT.

“I don’t know what will happen,” Kelly says about the future of the program. Roosevelt Middle School is the only school is the area with enough space, storage and equipment for the SERT team to successfully construct a robot.

“There are no other workspaces around that we could use,” says Kelly.

In a time of economic instability, job security has never been at a more pivotal point, and any experience that students can obtain during high school will benefit their chances of pursuing a professional career in a technical field.

Having fundamental, hands-on skills is crucial to obtaining a job in the technical field. If the SERT program is lost, students will have to look for alternative methods to enhance their skills. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Having fundamental, hands-on skills is crucial to obtaining a job in the technical field. If the SERT program is lost, students will have to look for alternative methods to enhance their skills. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

“It’s [robotics is] going to be helpful someday,” Lui says. “I’ve always wanted to help people.” The students feel that robotics has strengthened their ability to assist others and recognize the advantages team collaboration will have on their future endeavors.

If lost, SERT members will have no other outlets within this discipline because FIRST Robotics is the only hands-on program left at South Eugene High School. Churchill High School is the only Eugene school outside South that has an active robotics team.

“This is their one big outlet and I think that’s actually a failing of the schools today, that kids don’t get any practical experience,” Kelly says.

As it stands, SERT relies heavily on funding from outside donors, and this can prove to be a challenge in a city where the largest businesses are also non-profit organizations. To raise more funds, the team participates in outside fundraising events each year to pay for the $5,000 entrance fee required before the competitive season starts.

SERT team members gather around the main controller as they prepare to give a demonstration in an effort to attract more students to their program. Recruitment is essential to the success of their program. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

SERT team members gather around the main controller as they prepare to give a demonstration in an effort to attract more students to their program. Recruitment is essential to the success of their program. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

The students also show off their hard work in “performances” at both Roosevelt and Spencer Butte Middle Schools to recruit eight graders into their program for the following year. Demonstrating what they’ve been intensively working on for the last six weeks helps attract a wide range of candidates as additions to the SERT team.

“I like robotics because it’s a bunch of helping, and electronics, and it’s a team,” Yakov Berenshtein says.

The Best Fit


As background conversation and karaoke music fill the packed room swarming with students, red plastic cups are scattered across a beer-flooded wooden table. Everyone is having a great time, until Jack Freeman notices the view of Etienne Bean’s fading smile. Freeman sets down his drink and decides it’s time to part ways with their friends, acknowledging that his partner’s well being is more important than a typical night out.


Etienne Bean and Jack Freeman enjoy spending time together by riding bicycles. They own a custom pair of singled seat bikes that they ride around Eugene. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Etienne Bean and Jack Freeman enjoy spending time together by riding bicycles. They own a custom pair of singled seat bikes that they ride around Eugene. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Once Jack and Etienne met in Portland, they moved in together in Eugene for school after committing to a 4-year relationship. Shortly thereafter, they realized that their relationship helps balance the burden of everyday life.

“It’s convenient when it comes to chores, it’s convenient when it comes to financial responsibilities and sharing those,” Etienne says. “It’s nice generally just having somebody to talk to at all times when I’m having a bad class or a bad day.”

Other couples in the vicinity recognize the convenience a relationship can offer with respect to their daily lives.

Paul and Noelle live on the second floor of a house in the business district of Eugene. They enjoy staying at home and spending time with each other instead of going out. (Photo by Julia Reihs)

Paul and Noelle live on the second floor of a house in the business district of Eugene. They enjoy staying at home and spending time with each other instead of going out. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Just a few blocks down the road from Jack and Etienne, Noelle Petrowski and Paul Metzler have constructed a lifestyle that redefines traditional notions of the college experience.

Each day, Paul returns home to Noelle, his best friend and high school sweetheart. They talk and laugh, while cutting vegetables on a cutting board Paul made with Noelle’s name embedded in it.  At night, they retire to their room, decorated with a record collection and artwork including mod podge shadow boxes commemorating the first two months of their relationship. To this date, they say their relationship is as strong as it was from the beginning.

“Yeah, I’m still not sick of him,” Noelle says. She never regrets their decision to leave the dorms and move into their upstairs apartment in Eugene’s business district.

“It was a better fit for everything,” Noelle says.

In his free time as a university student, Paul goes to the craft center, where he makes timeless items for Noelle. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

In his free time as a university student, Paul goes to the craft center, where he makes timeless items for Noelle. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Missing out?

For Paul and Noelle, other than some slight criticism from close friends, they both agree that there’s been no difference in their social life.

“I think that the college experience is more relevant to people who are trying to find another person and I already have one,” Paul says.

Since they’ve already found their special someone, the couple doesn’t feel the need to actively go out and socialize with others. Instead, they choose a stay-at-home lifestyle, which focuses their priorities on school and enjoying their time together.

For Paul and Noelle, the act of moving out of the dorms was also a way to declare their independence. As current students at the University of Oregon, they cook for themselves, do their laundry in their bathtub, and balance general life. Committing to this relationship provides a balance to their lives.

On the other side of the spectrum, some students believe living with a significant other impedes one’s college experience, and the opportunities presented in college manifest—a genuine opportunity to discover the identity of oneself.

“Everyone says that’s when you figure out who you are and I just wanted to experiment a lot, like, try drinking,” says Anna Crist, University of Oregon senior. “Just have that freedom of not being at your parents’ house and have them know where you are all the time.”

Anna lived with a boyfriend during her sophomore year at the UO, but immediately felt tied down upon signing the lease.

“It was basically signing a contract, like, I’m going to be in a relationship with you for a whole year, at least,” she said.

After digging the pen on the X line, the situation turned sour. Anna felt increasingly more detached from her friends and social scene. Towards the end of their lease, they separated and decided to pursue different paths.

Today, Anna lives with two roommates in a small house close to campus, where she enjoys going out with her sorority sisters. She finds empowerment in the ability to make independent decisions about her future.

Jack and Etienne never had to choose between cohabitating and living their typical college experience. “As much as a person individually can learn about themselves from the college experience, going out and partying and drinking and learning your limits and your abilities, we’ve been able to do that exact same thing, but together,” Jack says.

When going out, Jack and Etienne enjoy their time, but also remain conscious of each other’s feelings and limitations. If one of them is sick or tired, the other has no problem going home early instead of going out. In the end, their commitment to each other remains their most valuable attribute.

“Maybe I’m missing out on some experiences, but I don’t feel that way,” Etienne says. “He’s not a rope. He’s just – he’s very open and an easy partner to have.”

Making the Decision

Noelle enjoys decorating her house with items with anything she can find at local garages sales. (Photo by Alan Sylvestre)

Noelle enjoys decorating her house with anything she can find at local garages sales. (Photo by Julia Reihs)

Love is not the only reason students are shacking up. The rising cost of a college education also serves as a contributing factor.

“I think we’ve chosen to worry about it and try to find ways to live cheaply,” Paul says.

Other couples, such as Jenelle Barzola and Tim Andrew, recognize the ways their commitment to each other can benefit them, like when filling out their financial aid to attend the University of Oregon. Currently registered as independents, Jenelle will receive more aid after they’re married this summer.

“We both thought that it would be a lot easier to do them together because we would receive more aid,” she said. “That was the first moment I thought we should get married.”

For Etienne, Jack’s support and the willingness to share costs has helped him towards graduation from the University’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. “I will be the first in my family to finish college,” Etienne says, “It’s kind of a big deal.”

A changing experience?

As the needs of the modern-day college population change, so do the experiences. “If I did have the funds to go through it and breeze through college without fear of loans and debt, then I’m not sure if I’d appreciate it as much,” Etienne says.

Pursuing financial stability, independence, and future careers, couples in committed relationships view their decision to live together as the best way for them to manage their goals. Some choose a more stay-at-home style and others value to social sphere.

“I don’t think there is just one college experience,” Jack says.

The Best of Oregon Camping


-Rache’ll Brown

In the past two decades I’ve had my fair share of bug bites, sun burns, Big Foot sightings, and campfire stories. I’ve caught fish, made s’mores, polar-beared, and had my tent tipped. Some of my best childhood memories were spent in the great outdoors, and as an Oregonian born and raised, I have spent most of my time in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Students and locals alike should experience a night or two in Oregon’s natural beauty, and these are a few places that I think are worth a visit.

Moonshine Park

Growing up on the Central Oregon Coast, an appearance of the sun meant a trip to Moonshine, not the beach. A mere fifteen dollars grants campers an overnight stay at Lincoln County’s most popular park. Plus: the people-watching is prime on a nice day.

Paulina Lake

Central Oregon is so beautiful, and although the weather can get excruciatingly hot for this coastal girl, Bend and La Pine are some of my favorite spots in Oregon. For fourteen dollars, campers can be right next to the lake, which means fishing and rock skipping.

Coldwater Cove

I am terrified of lakes and deep bodies of water, mainly because I have no idea what lies beneath the surface. At Coldwater Cove, this isn’t an issue.  For eighteen dollars per night, campers can hang out in my favorite body of water, Clear Lake.

Yukwah Campground

Twenty dollars per night for a camping plot, but the timeless memories come free. This camping ground located outside of Sweet Home, OR is one of my favorite. It’s right across from the South Santiam River and is encased by beautiful Douglas Firs. This spot is the epitome of the Pacific Northwest.

Link Creek Campground

For sixteen dollars a night campers can experience one of my favorite places in Oregon: Suttle Lake. The first time I drove through the Santiam Pass and saw this lake I was blown away, and getting up close and personal with it was breathtaking. It truly is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

The Cove Palisades State Park

Growing up, lake stories didn’t count unless they took place on Billy Chinook. At twenty dollars per night campers get to experience the lake and the beautiful red cliffs surrounding it. The best part is the diverse range of outdoor activities: hiking, swimming, fishing, and sunbathing are some options that can please all.

Discovering Hidden Gems: Flea Markets


-Emily Fraysse

Right there, displayed in front of me, was a perfect, authentic pair of ruby red Chanel pumps for twenty bucks. They were exactly two shoes sizes too small for me.

Every time a new month began, I looked forward to one thing: the flea market in Alameda, California. Around six a.m. of the first Sunday of every month, I would drive with friends and family to an island located next to Oakland and across the way from the fog-ridden city of San Francisco. The sunrise loomed above us as we walked towards to entrance, each of us holding a cup of coffee in our hand.

Flea markets can be overwhelming. Different vendors displaying vintage items from clothing to taxidermy to just about anything and everything imaginable. But, it’s worth it. Through a careful scope of each row of vendors, you have the ability to find hidden gems that are unique and cheap. It’s amazing how time and money can disappear so fast while getting lost in the market.

The craziest thing that I have ever bought was a vintage, white bed frame and headboard, two white side tables, a giant white mirror, and a vintage seafoam green dresser for a total of $500. The vendor had used Ralph Lauren paints on all of the items and sanded them down a bit to make them look older. It was a steal.

There are a variety of flea markets along the west coast that are definitely worth checking out. The Alameda Flea Market, which is where I always went, is the second largest flea market in California. There are many in California, Washington, and Oregon.

A bit of advice for going to flea markets: sometimes there is a fee to get in, so the earlier you go, the more you’ll have to pay since you are looking at the vendors first. Bring a piece of paper or take notes on your phone of vendors that you might want to go back to.

Although sifting through each of the vendors wares can seem daunting, running across those unique finds is worth it.

Elephants and Rhinos and Bears in Oregon? Oh my!

-Emily Fraysse

Bobbing his head forwards and back, he lunged right for our car.

“Roll up your window! Roll up your window!” screamed my mother in the driver’s seat.

Of course, in the first thirty seconds of driving into the Wildlife Safari Park, we get attacked. Before this moment, we never thought we would experience a full-grown ostrich bombarding our car, especially not in Oregon, but we did. Thankfully, before the beast could do any damage to the paint job of the Toyota Rav4, the workers at the Wildlife Safari shooed him away to the side of the road.

The park, located in Winston, Oregon, consists of two main areas: the drive-thru and the Village. The Village houses an array of animals such as wolves, flamingos, Egyptian geese, kookaburras, alligators, lemurs, bobcats, and bearded dragons. Another part of the Village is like a petting zoo, with pygmy goats, lamas, miniature donkeys, and horses. But the most amazing part of this park lies in the rest of the 600+ acre lot. Guests get the chance to experience animals up-close by driving through the five sectors (Africa Section, Wetland Area, The Americas, Asia Section, and Tiger and Cheetah Area) of the park.

It was traveler Frank Hart’s vision to create a non-profit facility in the Pacific Northwest with its main goal being to save rare and endangered species. Thirty-eight years later, through education, conservation, and research, not only has it become a fantastic wildlife safari, but the zoo is one of the top breeders of cheetahs in the United States. Since the zoo opening in 1972, there have been 171 cheetahs born in the park.

Going along with its goal of protecting the diversity of species, it created the Conservation of Rare and Endangered Species (C.O.R.E.S.) program in January 2005. Connecting with researchers all over the world, the Safari’s website explains that the program is creating, “scientifically-controlled managed breeding programs, public awareness of wildlife conservation issues, and in some cases, reintroduction of wildlife bred in captivity back into secure habitats.” Currently, it is working on cheetah reproduction projects as well as an African Elephant conservation and reproduction center.

Check the website for inside events including bear feed, breakfast with the bears, camel rides, cheetah encounter, elephant barn encounter, elephant car wash, and lion feeding!

The Pleasure of Print

[cap]A[/cap]fter ten years of graphic design with creative firms in Boston, Beth Kerschen decided to uproot her entire life and head out West. She settled in Portland, Oregon, and traded the high-pace life she knew for a new life of observation and creativity. Today she practices the craft of a multi-disciplinary artist by combining photography and printmaking to produce prints, cards, and shirts with digitally manipulated urban landscapes.

With a bachelor of fine arts, Beth reflects, “The irony is that what I really wanted to do was exactly what I did in college and the degree that I did got.  I needed to get that because that’s exactly what I’m doing now.”

Beth’s career as a graphic designer was simply a hiatus from what she truly loved:  photographic illustrating.

Whether to seek a stable job or pursue her true passion was a dilemma Beth knew all too well.

“There’s all this pressure; like, you have to make a lot of money, and you have to be practical, and you have to find a good job—a solid secure job.  I always had that fed to me for so long,” she says.

Everyone struggles with conjuring up the confidence to believe in his or herself, and Beth is no different.

“I’ve always felt not enough confidence to feel like anything I did people would like.  And there is that risk.  You do something and you hope people will like it,” she says.  Beth took that leap of faith and decided to follow her heart, diving in headfirst.

After ten years of personal conflict, Beth has since come full circle and is doing exactly what she did in college, printmaking. She loved it then, and she continues to love it now.

“When things aren’t right for you, there are so many obstacles—everything feels like an obstacle—but when you love what you’re doing, it flows better. It made me happier . . . It’s that simple.”

The Discipline of Dance

[caps]F[/caps]rom a young age, Geoffrey Bergold knew he was meant to move, but he didn’t realize until 2 years into college that he had a love for ballet. He abandoned traditional higher education, and found a disciplined home at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carisle, PA.

“For the first two months, I couldn’t walk,” recalls Bergold.

Transported from the east coast, Bergold now dances across the Pacific Northwest for the Eugene Ballet Company. Here, Bergold is surrounded by a devoted family of fellow dancers; “I don’t miss a day of work,” he says.



Flux Playlist: Songs About Home

-Flux Blog Staff

With finals week and graduation rapidly approaching, many of us are preparing to pack our bags and head home for the summer. The Flux blog decided we wanted to dedicate this weeks playlist to songs that remind us of our hometowns. Whether it’s being performed by a local artist or written about our neighborhoods, these are the songs that best represent our turfs!

Mike (Southern California)

  • Jack-Ass -Beck
  • By The Way -Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Santa Ana Winds -Cold War Kids
  • Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout -Dum Dum Girls

Diana (Northern California)

  • Sitting on The Dock of The Bay -Otis Redding
  • Yay Area -E-40
  • Andre N Andre -Andre Nickatina & Mac Dre
  • Blow The Whistle -Too Short

Jessica (Alaska)

  • You Were Meant for Me -Jewel
  • Anchorage -Michelle Shocked
  • Stephanie Says -The Velvet Underground

Sam (California)

  • California Dreamin -The Mamas & The Papas
  • Good Riddance -Green Day
  • All the Small Things -Blink-182
  • California Girls -The Beach Boys

Jamie (Southern California)

  • Beverly Hills -Weezer
  • Hanging by a Moment -Lifehouse
  • Payphone -Maroon 5
  • California -Phantom Planet

Tamara (Oregon)

  • The Story I Heard -Blind Pilot
  • Working Poor -Horse Feathers
  • Hey Mama -Mat Kearney
  • Make Me Over -Courtney Love

Are You a Slap Tail or a Web Foot?

-Mike Munoz

It’s no secret that Oregon takes its beer very seriously. In a state that is overflowed with microbreweries, you don’t have to go much further than a 7/11 to get yourself a nice bottle of a local brand beer. So wouldn’t it be great if you could go to your neighborhood liquor store and get yourself a nice bottle of booze made right here in Oregon? Well now you can.

The 4 Spirits Distillery opened in Adair Village, Oregon last June with the goal of creating a local, small batch martini grade vodka. Owner Dawson Officer saw a rising trend in small batch distilleries popping up and jumped at the opportunity to start his own brand. Although the distillery is still in its infancy, 4 Spirits has already released to types of vodka: Web Foot and Slap Tail. If you haven’t already guessed, Web Foot is targeted towards us Ducks while Slap Tail is aimed at our rival Beaver fans up north.

The idea behind Web Foot and Slap Tail was to create high quality liquor that could compete with top shelf brand name vodkas; however you might not guess that by simply looking at the label. Each bottle has a cartoon of a duck and a beaver respectively, and let’s just say they both look as though they’ve had a long night of partying.

Although they take their vodka very seriously at the 4 Spirits Distillery, they also wanted to make sure that they had some fun in the process. “We wanted to do something that goes against typical marketing schemes,” explains Director of Sales and Marketing, Sarah Wayt. “It’s all in good slap stick fun.” Aside from the name and goofy cartoons, there’s also a serious side to the 4 Spirits Distillery’s story.

As a distillery, it’s easy for us to assume that the “4 spirits” in their name refer to four different types of liquor. But in reality, they refer to four fallen soldiers Officer knew during his military service from 2003 to 2004. The distillery is even working on a bourbon that will be released in September and will be featured in a more serious tribute bottle. Some of the proceeds will be donated to Oregon Reintegration, in hopes to better the lives of soldiers returning home from war.

So next time you’re browsing for some booze at your local liquor store, look for the bottle with a passed out duck on the label. You may be surprised at how seriously good a homegrown vodka could taste.

A Rainy Day Rant: Umbrella Etiquette

-Jessica Ridgway

I’ve finally adapted to the wet winter weather Eugene graces us with during these cold months. I’ve purchased countless rain jackets, increased my boot collection, and I even bought an umbrella. And yes, I’m aware that a true Oregonian never uses an umbrella, having been teased numerous times by my rain-jacketed friends. But I don’t care. I am completely secure being an umbrella user in a town that views them as weakness.

My love for the umbrella is endless and when it’s raining I will take one almost everywhere. However, the only place I refuse to use an umbrella is in crowds, and if I’m out braving the rain like a “true Oregonian” I avoid umbrellas as much as I can. I don’t know why this happens, but when the rain falls, and the umbrellas come out, the sidewalk becomes a battlefield. It’s every umbrella for itself, and if you’re a rain-jacketed soldier you just have to watch out for the crossfire.

Perhaps the umbrella has such a deep-seated stigma here in Oregon that it’s necessary to plow through people, full of pride, surrounded by your rainproof barrier. Or perhaps people just have bad manners and aren’t aware their umbrella poked someone in the eye. Whatever the reason, chaos between umbrellas can still be avoided. So, if you’re an avid umbrella user consider these “rules” before heading out in the rain.

1. Use an umbrella that is proportionate to your size. A single person walking alone to class should not use an enormous golf umbrella. It’s completely unnecessary, it takes up too much space, and it looks strange.

2. When encountering another umbrella remember this tip: if the umbrella is shorter than yours, lift yours up in passing. If the other umbrella is taller than yours, pull yours down closer to your head (ladies, watch your hair!) while passing.

3. It’s impossible to fit two umbrellas on a sidewalk, so stop trying to make it work! Share one, or finish the conversation off of the sidewalk or inside. No one wants to maneuver around an umbrella barricade, and it’s always the duo-umbrella wall that injures umbrella-less pedestrians.

4. Speaking of pedestrians, watch out for them! They’re braving the rain without the umbrella security, so be aware of yours. Know where all of the pokey metal or plastic bits are and keep them away from faces and bodies. I hate people who wiggle their umbrella while they walk or hold it at an extreme angle. Avoid being that walking hazard.

5. When shaking your umbrella dry, do it outside and away from people. Most buildings have an entryway or sheltered area to safely do this. Don’t be the jerk who shakes water onto passing strangers or onto the floor and causes an accident.

Umbrella etiquette is not a set of manners engraved in stone. It simply comes down to common courtesy and respect for those around us. Keep these tips in mind the next time you brave the rain and everyone will stay not only dry, but happy too.

Follow Jessica at @jcridgway