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State Robotics Championships at Prior Lake High School: Cascading Success

03/16/2015, 3:15pm CDT
By Abby Muraski

On Feb. 21, 48 FTC Robotics teams from across the Midwest traveled to Prior Lake High School to compete in the Minnesota State FTC Championship. This massive tournament has been hosted by Prior Lake FRC team, 2169 KING TeC, for the past seven years, along with the help of the High Tech Kids program.

The night before competition began, the teams set up their work stations and put the finishing touches on their impressive robots, while the students of KING TeC helped in any way they could. The teams also went through the judging process, where they were asked questions not only about their robots, but about what they did to impact their communities and spread STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) throughout their area. The high school was a flurry of frenzied activity, building suspense for the coming competition the next day.

Saturday morning began with a driver’s meeting, where the teams reviewed the rules of the game and were allowed to ask questions of the judges and referees. Next came the opening ceremonies, where the judges, patrons and teams were introduced. The KING TeC Band then kicked off the competition with a rallying rendition of the national anthem.

The teams competed to the best of their ability, showing gracious professionalism throughout the day. They helped each other, strategized with one another and cheered for everyone. During the day, the teams experienced technical difficulties, wins, loses and support from their many peers. After qualification matches came to a close, the eight highest ranked teams each selected two other teams to join their robotic alliance in the final matches. Each alliance competed marvelously and impressed the crowd of over 1,000 spectators.

This year’s game was called “Cascade Effect." The students were allotted three months to make a robot that would be able to collect wiffle balls and place them into tubes on rolling platforms of varying heights. Teams could then move the tube platforms up ramps for bonus points. The students had to design, build and program robots, and then drive their creations during the competition using joystick controls.

Seven teams from Prior Lake competed in the State FTC Championship: three from Prior Lake High School’s KING TeC FTC robotics program and four from St. Michael's Catholic School’s FTC robotics program. Five of the seven competing Prior Lake teams made it to the quarter final matches or further. Prior Lake team #3355, “The Bomb Squad," was one of the teams in the second place alliance.

The winning alliance consisted of team #7175, “Robot Squad," from Rochester, team #9430, “Typhoon," from Bloomington, and team #7655, “The Q is Silqent," from Eagan. These three teams qualified for the FTC Super Regional in Iowa, taking place on March 26-28. There they will compete for the opportunity to advance to the World Championship in St. Louis, held in April.

The final award given at the competition, the Inspire Award, is also the most coveted. This award is given to the team that truly embodies the challenge of the FTC program, demonstrates initiatives to spread the robotics program, and is a top contender in all other judging programs. This year’s winner of the Inspire Award was team 7152, “Robot Squad," from Rochester.

Abby Muraski of Prior Lake is a sophomore at Prior Lake High School and a member of KING TeC.

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