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The dump chuck, named for Chuck Norris, won Most Photogenic Robot award during the North Dakota State University BEST Robotics competition.

'We did better than we expected'

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wave Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

After the time put into The Dump Chuck, the Detroit Lakes robotics group was rewarded with first place for most photogenic robot.

"We tried for that," mentor Sam Esser of SJE Rhombus said.

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The team, now named QWERTY Robotics, participated in the College of Engineering and Architecture at North Dakota State University's Bison BEST (Boosting, Engineering, Science, Technology) Robotics competition last month.

At the competition, there were 24 teams total, with two not even finishing their robots in time to compete. So, of the 22 competitors, the DL team came in 21st.

"We did better than we expected," Junior Karl Robinson said.

During this year's theme of High Octane -- next year's will be something different -- the robot was required to pick up different items that represented molecules and place them in a container for scoring.

There were five different items the Dump Chuck had to pick up, and each was worth a different number of points.

"We got a lot of the lesser point items," Debbie Janzen said, who helped organize the team and whose son, Jacob Conway is a part of.

The group admits they didn't quite get the robot built as they had planned. Plus, they had some problems with the "brain" of the robot, taking time away from other aspects of the robot.

But, with their first competition under their belt, the QWERTY Robotics group is preparing for next year's competition already. They said they learned about troubleshooting and knowing the main scoring goals, and will put them both to good use over the next year.

The team, which lost two and gained one new member, knows they will have different parts to make their robot from next year, but also know they will have similar parts they can practice with throughout the year.

"It was huge -- bigger than I thought it would be," Robinson said of the competition.

Larger teams brought cheerleaders, pep bands and mascots with them. The DL team of under 10 stuck to their project at hand -- The Dump Chuck.

"The vibe was very much like at an athletic event," Esser said.

"I've never seen more geeks in one place," Nick Roethel said.

The QWERTY group will meet twice a month and not only work on robots, but broaden the scope of the group to work with electronics. They are looking for any robotic related businesses in the Detroit Lakes area to sponsor them or to give tours to demonstrate the uses of robotics in the business.

Esser said that practice of standing behind the group is a good return because the student could continue on to college for robotics, engineering, etc., and return to work from the company.

To become a mentor, contact Debbie Janzen at djanzen@detlakes.k12.mn.us.

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