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Robotics Wrap Up at the DECC

Posted at: 03/09/2013 6:19 PM
Updated at: 03/09/2013 10:32 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Nearly 100 high school robotics teams from across the Midwest clashed in the final day of battles at the DECC on Saturday.

Students from Grand Marais snuck in a few practice shots on Saturday. Engineer Nate Carlson said getting a robot to launch frisbees is a challenge his team looks forward to. 

“It's a lot of work, but I mean it's a lot of fun too. We're all passionate about robotics; we're all passionate about being here,” Carlson said.

It's a sport that's sweeping the Northland, and about a dozen teams from the region took part in the competitions this weekend at the DECC.

Jarrid Johnson from the Denfeld Hunters said the experience is hard to describe.

“The adrenaline rush you get when you're on the field it's just a feelingyou can't compare with. It's like tunnel vision on your robot,” Johnson said.

He proudly said that there are more FIRST Robotics teams in Minnesota than hockey teams.

“Oh it's just an explosion of FIRST. It's a great program and it deserves to have more publicity in my mind,” Johnson said. “I mean it's science and science is going to do a lot more than an NHL team.”

He said skills they learn in the sport, like engineering or computer programing, prepare them for careers in a way that traditional sports cannot.

It was Denfeld's second year in robotics, but the team qualifed for the finals.

It was a different story for the Grand Marais Icestorm. Losses had the team packing up early, but Carlson said they'll be back next year.

“We could be in dead last, like last year, and we're still having fun and we loved it,” he said.

Teams across the Northland have started tinkering in the new sport, and more are expected to join next year.

Organizers said there are now 180 robotics teams in Minnesota, and that's expected to grow to 200 next year.

Both Denfeld and Duluth East fell in the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.