GETTING A ‘CHARGE’ OUT OF IT
The Minneota Robotics team is busy constructing this year's robot in anticipation of the regional competition in Duluth in early March.
This year's theme for the competition is "Charged Up".
The Minneota team consists of 13 members in grades 9-12. The Vikings are coached by Darren Clausen and assisted by Jeff Van Keulen and David Moriarty. Charlie Callens is a volunteer coach.
The team works on its robot project after school each day from 3:15-6 p.m. and has eight weeks to complete it.
"We received our instruction and supplies in early January," said Drew Lipinski, who has been on the robotics team for the past three years. "This week will be our fourth week working on building the robot."
Team members are: senior Kaitlyn Ludwikowski, juniors Joe Voit, Sam Skorczewski, Samantha Landrus, Drew Lipinski and Ryanna Waldner; sophomores Kylie Callens and Elena Myhre; and freshmen Grace Landrus, Gabe Ludwikowski, Noah Harms, Dawson Dovre and Carson Becker.
The "Charged Up" challenge this year consists of teams building a robot that can earn points by placing cones and cubes at various heights and levels. "The robot has to pick up the (cubes) and cones and try to place them in a certain order like a square, cone and square," explained Lipinski. "It's a little like (Connect Four)."
During regional competition, two alliances of three teams each compete to score cubes and cones into their grid to "charge up" their community. The alliance each earns additional points if their robots are docked to, or engaged with, that charge station.
During the first 15 seconds of each match, robots are autonomous and can score preloaded game pieces, collect and score additional game pieces.
During the remaining two minutes and 15 seconds, drivers must control their robots, which continue to collect cubes and cones from human players at their substations to deliver power to the grids in their community.
While constructing the project, team members are either builders, programmers or in marketing. During competition, those members then become drivers, drive coaches, technicians, human players or in the pits as scouts.
Lipinski helped with the team's robot build when he was in eighth grade, but because team members must be in at least their freshman year, he didn't qualify to be a part of the team that went to regionals, although he did make the trip to watch and gain experience.
"The thing I really like about robotics is how far we come as a team and seeing the project come together," said Lipinski. "I like helping the new members of the team, too."