After setback, robotics team returns from Duluth with design award

FIRST Robotics Competition Team 525 Swartdogs hopped on a bus and took off for Duluth on Wednesday afternoon, March 1. They returned home very early Sunday morning with an award in their hands and many lessons learned.

After a hard-fought day and a half of qualification matches, the Swartdogs were ranked second, losing just one match. They were selected by the No. 1-seeded alliance, Team 2987 from Farmington, Minn. The other playoff alliance partner was Team 6758 from Kasson, Minn. The alliance put up a fight but was knocked out in the quarterfinal round by a No. 8-seeded alliance. Team 525 received the Industrial Design award for their robust and versatile robot design. The award was the highlight of the trip for some students.

“When our team was recognized for the Industrial Design award, I don’t think anyone was expecting it,” junior Abby Laures said. “Many of us jumped up in happiness like we came to a breakthrough in the tough regional competition.”

Others just enjoyed the experience of seeing the culmination of the team’s hard work. “I loved getting to see which of our design ideas worked best and which ones set us apart from other teams,” Peet freshman Grace Hertz said. “Being able to pick up gears from the ground made a huge difference and our climbing ended up being pretty reliable.”

While the team did not qualify for the championships in St. Louis, it will be competing at the Iowa Regional at the McLeod Center in just two weeks, where it will have another opportunity to qualify.

“It could have gone better, but also a lot worse,” junior Xiang Zhao said. “I think we learned a great deal during the competition that we can use to better our driving and better our team for the Iowa Regional.”

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