By William Flannery
On Wednesday, March 8th the Northfield High School RoboRaiders robotics team left the high school for their competition. Their competition this year was the Great Northern Regional competition in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The people going were the two adult mentors, Andy Richardson, and Nicholas Connor, and the 20 students on the team. The leadership team consisted of the captain and electrical lead Reilly Laine, the programming lead Kamden Christensen, the mechanical lead Will Flannery, and the marketing lead Lucia Willkomm. The other members of the team were Aiden Gittens, Andrew Hess, Brian Rosas Marcial, Cameron Melnychuk, Carter Schlomann, Christopher Neubel, Darby Willkomm, Dylan Besch, Ethan Coudron, Finn Rachuba, Jamie Martig, Jayden Tix, Kennan Fields, Linus Rachuba, Mason Rahier, and Soren Powers. They also had help from Roger Rachuba and Ken Liebl.
The competition was held at the Alerus Center, University of North Dakota. 53 teams participated from around North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and one team coming from Montana.
Now you’re probably thinking about battlebots but let’s take a few steps back. There’s no blades, flames, or destruction of any kind in this competition. It is an FRC event which stands for First Robotics Competition. It is run by the FIRST Organization who run competitions all over the country and the world. Every year in January they send out a set of tasks that teams must construct a robot to complete while following a strict set of rules released at the same time. The tasks this year were to pick up cubes and cones off the floor and place them on different height platforms and poles respectively and to balance on a platform that tilted back and forth, often with one or even two other robots on it. The robots must also complete these tasks while in an arena with 5 other teams, 3 on one side and 3 on the other, these are referred to as alliances.
This competition followed a 7 week build season during which the team designed and fabricated their robot (Philbert with an F) using the facilities at the Northfield High School.
The competition lasted 3 days. During the first day, practice matches took place during which time drivers practiced on the arena and the programmers ironed out kinks in the code. On the second day qualifying matches began. Every team competes in a certain number of qualifying matches with randomly assigned alliance partners and opponents. After all the qualifying matches are done teams are ranked based on the points they earned. The qualifying matches continued through the morning of the third day. The second half of the third day was taken up by finals matches. The finals take place between 8 alliances which are chosen by the top 8 teams at the end of the qualifying matches.
At the end of the qualifying matches the RoboRaiders were not in the top 8 teams and were not selected to be in one of the final alliances and so did not move on to finals. They packed up their robot and tools and came home brimming with ideas for next year.
The northfield team went to one of many competitions that go on weekly for 8 weeks around the state and the country. In the off season for the rest of the year the team will be touring the facilities of two of their sponsors, Post and Cardinal Glass, and working to organize and improve their design and construction process and the facilities they have access to at the high school. If you know any high schoolers who would be interested in joining the team, keep your eye out for their open house later this year and their informational meetings next fall. They would like to thank their sponsors without which their team would not be possible: Cardinal Glass, Hillman Family, Multek Donation, Post, Heritage Dental, Healthy Community Initiative, and Benjamin Bus.