Friday, May 17, 2013


By Howard W. Voigt:

State Robotics Tournament

Flying discs, pyramid climbing focus of challenge; King Robota is coming

Plastic discs will be flying and pyramids will be climbed at Williams Arena on Saturday, May 18, with
the action undertaken by robots designed, built and controlled by 30 teams of Minnesota high school students.

The Minnesota State Robotics Tournament is in its second year and was the first of its kind in the nation
sponsored by a high school activities association. It will be conducted on the famous raised floor of “The Barn.”

Students on 30 teams throughout Minnesota will compete to claim the state championship.

Ultimate Ascent is the name of the game, the same game that robotics teams throughout the country
played this year. Designed and managed by FIRST®, — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and
Technology — the game involves two competing alliances of three teams attempting to score as many discs into their goals as possible in a two minute and 15 second match using their remote-controlled robots they designed and built.

The game is played on a level, enclosed area 27-by-54 feet in dimension. The matches begin with a 15-
second autonomous period in which the robots operate independently of drivers. Discs scored during this period are worth extra points. The goals are placed at different heights and the higher the goal, the higher the score.

The matches conclude with student drivers attempting to guide their robots up pyramids placed on each
half of the competition area. The higher a robot climbs, the more points are earned.

The qualified teams represent the top 30 Minnesota teams from various FIRST® regional competitions.

Minnesota has the third largest FIRST® Robotics Competition state contingent in the nation with 180 teams,
surpassing even Texas which currently ranks fourth. Minnesota has the most teams per capita of any state in the nation. There are more FIRST® Robotics teams in Minnesota than boys’ hockey teams (155).

Here is an alphabetic list of the 30 qualified teams, preceded by each team’s FIRST®-designated
number: 3313 Alexandria, 4607 Becker, 2225 Champlin Park/Anoka STEP, 2531 Chaska, 3056
Crookston, 2512 Duluth East, 2220 Eagan, 3130 East Ridge of Woodbury, 2502 Eden Prairie, 1816 Edina,
4539 Frazee, 2705 The International School of Minnesota of Eden Prairie, 2052 Irondale of New Brighton,
2977 La Crescent-Hokah, 2526 Maple Grove, 2175 Math & Science Academy of Woodbury, 2538 Morris Area, 3102 Nevis, 3276 New London-Spicer, 2501 North of North St. Paul, 3038 North Branch/Chisago Lakes Area, 4624 Owatonna, 2169 Prior Lake, 3747 RiverBend Academy/Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, 3244 St. Cloud Schools, 2518 Simley of Inver Grove Heights, 3007 Tartan of Oakdale, 3277 Thief River Falls, 4656 Two Harbors, and 2177 Visitation of Mendota Heights.

Admission to the tournament is free. The schedule: Opening Ceremonies at 8:30 a.m.; Preliminary
Rounds involving randomly drawn alliances from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.; Semifinal
Rounds in best 2-out-of-3 competition involving the top four teams after choosing their own alliance partners
begins at 3:15 p.m.; the Championship, also best 2-out-of-3, follows the semifinals after a short break; Awards will be presented at about 4:30 p.m.

The inaugural 2012 State Robotics Tournament was won by the three-team alliance led by Park of
Cottage Grove with the Prior Lake and Stillwater Area teams as alliance partners. The 2012 challenge was
Rebound RumbleSM and involved the robots shooting mini basketballs and attempting to balance robots on
pivoting bridges.

Additional fun facts about Minnesota robotics:

• The growth of robotics programs in the state has been exponential. In 2006 there were only two
teams; 16 in 2007; 54 in 2008; 81 in 2009; 105 in 2010; 131 in 2011; 153 in 2012; and 180 in 2013,
a 15 percent increase over the year before.

• Roughly half of Minnesota’s teams are located outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and 56
percent of Minnesota’s high school students have access to a FIRST® Robotics team at their school
or at a partnering school.

• The 10,000 Lakes/North Star Double-Regional is one of the largest FIRST® Robotics events outside
of the World Championship, with a combined total of 123 teams that competed March 28-30 this
year at Williams and Mariucci arenas. Ninety-seven teams competed at the combined Lake
Superior/North Star Double Regional March 7-9 this year at the DECC in Duluth.

• Edina is in its eighth year of competition, the longest running robotics program in the state. The
program was initiated by a junior who built the robot in his dad’s kitchen. Eighty percent of Edina’s
robotics team graduates pursue higher education in either engineering or science.

• Event sponsor, Digi-Key Corporation, based out of Thief River Falls, Minn., is the global leader in
electronic component selection, availability and delivery with more than 3 million products from
over 650 quality name-brand manufacturers at Digi-Key’s special guest,
King Robota (, an 8-foot tall robot that interacts with humans, is also making
an appearance at this year’s event. Digi-Key is also sponsoring the Innovator of the Year awards and
souvenir programs for all participants.

• League staff conducted a workshop about Minnesota’s inaugural state tournament at the 2012 annual
summer conference of the National Federation of State High School Associations. Several states
have followed up with inquiries and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletics Conference (League
counterpart) became the second state association in the country to sponsor a state tournament. It was
held May 11 in Hartford and involved 41 teams. At least five other state associations are at various
stages of consideration of similar events.

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