Minnesota students compete in robotics competition


Courtesy VEX Robotics via Flickr

Minnesota students are participating this year for the first time in what organizers call the largest robotics competition in the world.

On Friday, 22 teams of about six students each from schools across northern Minnesota will compete at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls for a chance to go to the VEX Robotics World Championship later this spring in California.

There are competitions for middle school and high school age students.

By creating a robot to complete a specific task, the students learn about mechanical engineering, sensors, computer programming and problem solving, said NCTC Electronics Technology instructor Andrew Dahlen.

“These are things students don’t have a lot of exposure to but really should,” he said. “The aim of this entire initiative is to grow student interest in technology.”

Last weekend, 23 teams from southern Minnesota met in St. Cloud. A team from Rockville, Minn., won that round of competition making them eligible for the championship in California where thousands of students from more than 20 countries compete.

The competition happens on a 12′ by 12′ mat. Students must move the robot around obstacles to complete tasks like picking up balls or barrels and putting them in a container. The teams receive robotics kits at the beginning of the year, and work for several months on the design.

The idea behind the competition is to increase student interest in science, technology and math.

The event is funded by the 360 Center for Applied Engineering and Manufacturing and corporate sponsors.

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