Northland’s robotics teams gear up for season amid pandemic
DULUTH, MN. (KBJR 6) — In the classrooms of local high schools, future engineers, designers and world leaders are hard at work.
“There’s just a lot of knowledge you get from robotics that’s hard to get anywhere else,” said Lydia Stone, co-captain of the Cloquet Ripsaw Robotics team.
High school students involved in First Robotics work together to design, engineer, and operate a fully functional robot that they send into competition.
But this season, the pandemic has made things more difficult.
“Aluminum and metal sourcing especially at this time is incredibly difficult, we’ve actually had some of our orders canceled because there’s just nowhere to get them and we knew the Shipping would be an issue, but we didn’t realize just like, ‘wow that’s really an issue,’ said Qasim Mujteba, captain of the Daredevils Robotics team from Duluth East.
“We had expensive electronic parts that took a long time to ship and part of the shipment is delayed,” said Cloquet Ripsaw Robotics co-captain Jake Mertz.
They also faced fundraising issues.
“Normally we would be able to go to Cub or SuperOne and bag groceries with them,” said Duluth East Daredevils team executive Landon Compton. “We weren’t able to do that this year just because of their COVID policies – so it’s been a struggle, that’s usually our main income.”
Members of the Duluth East Daredevils and Cloquet Ripsaw robotics teams said that despite some of the setbacks, support for their teams is still strong.
“The Cloquet community, who we rely on a lot for sponsorships, small businesses and parents and grandparents and our school were always very supportive of our efforts and we didn’t have many places that turned us down because of COVID,” Stone said. .
The first regional competitions of the season will take place the first week of March at the DECC.
Duluth East and Cloquet will compete.
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