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Nevis robotics team takes 2nd place at state competition

Lennie the robot - “3102,” the Nevis robotics team and mentors, are clockwise, from front, Amanda Hass, Kyle Bannor, Zach Polzin, mentor Andrew Dahlby, Josh Trosen, Conley Anderson, William Kempnich, Brett Johnson, Dexter Copp, captain and driver Aaron Halik, Micah Stambaugh, Dakota Larson, Rusty Uscola, Mikayla Magnuson, Shelby Engels and Paige Daniels.


The Nevis robotics team walked into Williams Arena ranked 30th out of 30 teams competing at the state level.

But at the weekend’s conclusion, their three-team alliance, of which Nevis was captain, departed as second in the state.

Sixteen Nevis students accompanied Lennie, their Frisbee-tossing robot, to the University of Minnesota; 20 had participated in the project, with Rusty Uscola their lead mentor.

Work began in January, six and a half weeks allowed for the robot’s creation.

“We build wooden prototypes,” Uscola explained of the evolution, the product then sent off to Darchuk Fabrication.

By mid-March, the Nevis robotics team and Lennie were headed to Duluth for their fifth year of competitions.

Often called the “varsity sport for the mind,” FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology.

Under strict rules and time limits, teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, improve teamwork skills and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

Nevis received two grants totaling $19,000, $10,000 of which was anonymously donated by a large corporation.

This year’s game, called “Ultimate Ascent,” was similar to a robotic Ultimate Frisbee, with a twist. The object of the game was for the robot to score as many goals as possible during the match with standard flying discs.

The higher the goal in which the disc is scored, the more points earned.

The match ends with robots attempting to climb up pyramids located near the middle of the field. Each robot earns bonus points based on how high it climbs.

Two robot alliances, one red and one blue, composed of three teams each, compete in matches of two minutes and 15 seconds on a 27-by-54-foot field. The competing robots are up to 7 feet tall and weigh about 150 pounds.

Nevis’ alliance was ranked third overall in the preliminary qualifications Saturday, winning seven out of eight. Their alliance teams were Prior Lake, which won state last year and headed to nationals prior to the event, and New London-Spicer.

The three-team alliance won both semi-finals, but lost both finals, Uscola said.

Nevis was the smallest public school competing at state level at the University of Minnesota Saturday; the smallest overall was a math and science school.