It's called the Dragonfly, and it whizzed the Infor-sponsored high school robotics team past the competition to rank 29th in the world.
The Irondale High School Robotics Team FRC 2052, nicknamed KnightKrawler, competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
In the 2013-14 season, 47 students at Irondale High School in the Minneapolis suburb of New Brighton, Minnesota, designed and built a robot that could best accomplish the task of this year's contest parameters: Arial Assist. The match "is played by two competing alliances of three robots each on a flat 25' x 54' foot field, straddled by a lighting truss suspended just over five feet above the floor. The objective is to score as many balls in goals as possible during a 2 minute and 30 second match. The more alliances score their ball in their goals, and the more they work together to do it, the more points their alliance receives," according to the KnightKrawler website.
KnightKrawler repeated as the Lake Superior Regional Champion and Minnesota 10,000 Lakes Regional Champion. Next the team moved on to the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
Some 400 teams from 16 countries qualified for this level of competition, divided into four divisions. KnightKrawler and its Dragonfly wound up ranked 29th.
Finishing the competition season KnightKrawler repeated as Minnesota State High School League FIRST State Champion.
"We are extremely proud of how the students embraced new challenges and overcame differences to reach a common goal," said Alane Matko, principal QA analyst at Infor, who has been KnightKrawler's lead business team mentor since 2010.
"The students were inspired by what they can accomplish through dedication, team work, and interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and can inspire young people to become leaders in these fields," Matko said.
Of the 13 seniors on the team, 12 went on to post-secondary education, and nine of those, or 75%, went into STEM fields.
In addition to the STEM aspects, the robotic team members also learn:
- How to run a nonprofit organization
- How to find sponsors: foundations, employers of mentors and parents, and local business
- Grant writing and other fundraising
- Writing a business plan
- Marketing and promotion
- Using media (website, social media, YouTube channel)
"KnightKrawler's success has helped us to spread the word about FIRST and generate excitement about robotics in our school," Matko said.
This 2014-15 school year, the KnightKrawler team has set ambitious goals to go further in the FIRST World Championship and develop their innovative thinking to solve future problems with technology.
Watch video of Dragonfly competing at the FIRST World Championship.