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Two Harbors robotics team competes at regionals

Shown is the Two Harbors team's robot completing a task at a pre-scrimmage regional competition on Feb. 15 at Itasca Community College. Photo courtesy of Lauren Burton.

The Two Harbors robotics team begins regional competition today at the DECC in Duluth.

The team, Rock Solid Robotics No. 4656, consists of 17 students and they have been working for the past six weeks to build and perfect their robot. The regional competition began today and will continue through Saturday, with championships in the afternoon.

According to coach Lauren Burton, each team is randomly assigned two alliance teams to work with to complete tasks. These alliances compete against other alliances on the field at the same time to earn points. The eight teams with the most points the end of the qualification rounds move on to the championship round and get to pick which two teams they want on their championship alliance.

"In previous years, you could interact with the alliance you are competing against at that time," Burton said. "But this year the fields are separated and now there is no contact with the competing alliance."

Senior Brad Knight said that he likes this new rule because it starts to separate them more from battlebots and it becomes more about the challenge.

"With the new rule, it may not be as exciting for spectators to watch, but the aspect of it is great," he said.

This is Knight's third year on team and this year, he is a team captain. Knight said he joined because he knew he wanted to work in engineering, but not what part.

"This experience has been so fun and I've learned so much, and because of it I've decided to go into computer engineering," he said.

Knight has plans to attend North Dakota State University next fall to pursue a degree in just that, but right now he's excited for this year's regionals.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the other robots and what other teams have come up with," Knight said. "I'm also looking forward to working with the other teams."

If the team moves on to the championship round they have a chance to be invited to the state competition, which would be the third year in a row for Two Harbors. If they do get invited to state, the team will be allotted six hours of documented time between the regionals and state competition to make adjustments and fix any thing that broke on the robot. Last year, the team used all six hours.

"Your robot can take a lot of wear and tear during the competition," said coach Mark Schlangen. "Last year we spent most of the time fixing it, so you really have to plan out what you are going to do because it's not a lot of time."

The regional competition began today at 9 a.m. at the DECC and will go until 5:45 p.m. On Saturday, qualification matches continue, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 12:15 p.m., with final rounds beginning at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free to the public.

"I think it's a really neat and unique competition to watch, so if there is any way for people to make it to the DECC this weekend they should come and watch and cheer the team on," Schlangen said.

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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