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Area robotics teams make a big impression at state

VEX Robotics teams from Austin and Southland Schools made big impressions at the Minnesota State VEX Robotics competitions in St. Cloud, Jan. 30-31.

At the middle school level, Southland’s Borderbots were tournament semi-finalists and also won an award for creative engineering. Judges determined the school’s Southbots team had the “most effective and efficient design,” and rewarded them the Design Award.They also took second place in the robot programming and driving category.

The Mechbots also took a semi-final slot and the final middle school level team, the Roverbots, took the Amaze Award for a well-rounded and well-performing robot, along with first place in robot programming and driving.

The school’s high school level team, the Rebelbots, was a semi-finalist in its tournament and won the Build Award when judges determined their machine was well made.

Of the teams, all but the Borderbots earned slots in the VEX World Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, April 22-25.

Coach Paula Mortenson said it is a great reward for the students’ hundreds of hours of work on robots.

“We’re just so proud and so thankful for VEX Robotics,” Mortenson said, adding that they are still dedicated to doing the best they can at nationals in Iowa and the World Tournament.

When Mortenson said the teams could take a week off after the state tournament, they were back at work the next day, refining and in some cases completely rebuilding their robots as they prepare for upcoming competitions.

One team rebuilding is the Roverbots, who are already ranked 15th in the nation for skills.

“They feel they can make it better,” Mortenson said.

Eighth grader Cody Krull said they have found some issues and they plan to have everything fixed by the U.S. Open, April 2-4 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

All of the teams want to make a name for their school, Mortenson said.

Also heading to the U.S. Open are two teams of Engineers from IJ Holton Intermediate School in Austin.

Finally, from Ellis Middle School in Austin, Coach Brandon Soller said both the seventh and eighth grade teams finished out a tough season strong.

“Both teams went in and did their best,” he said.

Although they are not advancing further, the judges awarded the eighth graders the Inspire Award, stating that the team was an inspiration to them.

For the seventh graders, their fellow competitors voted that their team showed the best sportsmanship out of any other at the tournament, giving them the Sportsmanship Award.

More information about VEX Robotics can be found at www.robotevents.com.