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Rugby’s Robotics team heads to regional competition

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

The best offense is a good defense, as the saying goes.

And that’s the strategy Rugby’s Team Metal Gear No. 878 will hang its hat on during this week’s FIRST Robotics regional competition in Minneapolis on the University of Minnesota campus.

“Some robots focus on offense while others have defensive mechanism or strategy,” said senior Lucas Schmaltz. “And our robot is set up for defense.”

About the competition

Each robot must pull a trailer behind it. The object of the competition is for teams to gather and place nine-inch balls into their opponent’s trailers to score points while preventing balls from ending up in their trailer.

Rugby students have spent the better part of two months building the robot and preparing for the competition. This year was especially challenging because a new control system to operate the robot had to be used. A pair of former Rugby students and program participants – Jon Kuhnemund and Caleb Skipper – provided some guidance to the students building their robot.

What makes the program appealing to so many students is it’s quite different from any other extracurricular activity, said senior Jacie Mundahl.

The regional is more than just competing. It’s an opportunity to meet students from other states and see how they constructed their robots.

“The robots essentially do the same thing, but they can look very different,” Schmaltz said.

Unlike previous competitions, a number of Rugby students will get the chance to drive the robot during the competition rounds, Schmaltz said. What’s unique about the competition is the higher seeded teams can pick a lower seed to “team up” with them prior to the final round. And given Rugby’s defensive robot design, it may just be a good fit for another team.

Those students who put a certain number of hours working on building the robot, setting up the controls, or preparing other tasks, are eligible to go to the regional. This is the eighth year Rugby has taken part in the program, for which Jan Hagen, science teacher, serves as advisor.

The competition will begin with a practice round this Thursday, April 2 and then the competition starts on Friday, April 3 and continues with the finals on Saturday, April 4.

The students who are in the program are: Jeshua Buckmeier, Emeka Enubuzor, Marne Johnson, Jacie Mundahl, Lucas Schmaltz, Joclyn Seiler, Jacob Stadum, Lexi Broe, Chris Fedje, Stephanie Friestad, Mitch Grochow, Pake Hagen, Thomas Seaver, Anne Schmaltz, Aaron Teigen, Emily Fritel, Brittany Fritel, Rachel Hoffert, Leo Hoffert, D.J. Wilkie, Andrew Hershey, David McAtee, Jayden Welk.

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