Robotics Competition Takes Over the DECC

First-Ever Swedish Team Competes in Northern Lights Regional

DULUTH, Minn. –  The First Robotics Regional high school competitions are happening at the DECC in Duluth.

This year, the tournaments had some international flare.

Robots zip across the floor of the DECC Arena, competing in a new game unique to this season.

“You get three teams to go together and cooperate to get cubes on a scale,” explains Mikael Wedham, a mentor for Viking Robotics. “So you want your scale to tip over in your favor.”

Teams in matching t-shirts and their die hard fans cheer on the custom built robots.

“It’s a big team and we’re all working together to do a bunch of different things, like we have the people on the team who build the robot, we have the people who manage the funds, the people who do the media outreach like this, that’s Sirri’s job,” explains Linnea Frisk, a Duluth East Daredevils team member. “We have a lot of different stuff that all comes together to make a team.”

The Duluth  East Daredevils have competed in regionals for years. This year they take on a new challenge: mentoring Sweden’s first-ever robotics team.

“It’s amazing and we really want to expand this so we get more teams and maybe we can have a regional in Europe in a couple of years,” says Rebecca Zeidlitz Rettig, a Viking Robotics team member from Sweden.

Viking Robotics flew twenty-four hours to compete for the first time against other teams and learn the ropes from the Daredevils.

“The edge of competition makes things go either good or bad and that’s good for resolving those issues,” says Wedham. “We want to learn.”

Both student groups have the chance to learn about each other’s cultures.

“It’s like in the movies,” says Zeidlitz. “It’s so different from Sweden. We don’t have the same set of schedule. They have the same lessons every day, they have different.”

They compete with and against each other but always support their international friends from afar.

“We’ve never had a team that we’re helping out before so it’s super cool to see them and be able to cheer for another team and it’s super cool to have team spirit,” says Sirri Truckey, a Duluth East Daredevil.

Some teams will leave the DECC on their way to nationals or with different prizes but the Swedes of Viking Robotics could leave with something more.

“Because of the Daredevils, they learned us how we can help other teams,” says Zeidlitz Rettig. “Because they helped us then we can help others so they send us a kit that we will send forward to a new team in Sweden. Like passing it forward.”

Just like any other sport, robotics competitions have referees to make sure teams follow the rules.

We talked to one ref who is a former competitor and now calls fouls and penalties to stay involved with the robotics action.

“It’s really a lot of fun, you get to work with a small group team plus the teams really respect you a lot,” said referee Sydney Nagel. “You kind of strike fear in them when you walk into a room and they see the zebra stripes and it’s like oh no a ref’s here.”

She tells us people sometimes get upset with calls but robotics crowds are usually respectful.

 

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