After participating in robotics events in recent years, Dakota Adventist Academy hosted their first robotics meet on Jan. 17. Held in the recently renovated DAA gymnasium, nine teams participated in the regional meet: DAA, Tioga, Alexander, Wilton, Bismarck’s Career Academy and Technology Center, Shiloh Christian, St. Mary’s Central, Williston, and another school from the Minot area.

Described by organizers as a “scrimmage,” the gathering was a preseason opportunity for students to test their electro-mechanical creations against peers—and the clock—in an official competition-level arena.

The robots feature limited computer-programming and are designed to perform specific functions. They are built by students from a variety of electronic, mechanical and structural elements. This year’s challenge required the ability to lift and move sizable plastic blocks around obstacles between two points within the 12 foot by 12 foot arena.

Each machine was controlled remotely by two students: a pilot and a lift-function operator. This demanded practiced cooperation and split-second decision-making. Within each two-minute match, points were awarded for the number of blocks moved a minimum distance, blocks placed or stacked on a special tray, and for other time and performance achievements. These elements produced great team excitement and fun for spectators as well.

After the initial rounds of single head-to-head competition, clubs were paired for the elimination rounds based on accumulated points. The demand for teamwork kicked into high gear, as clubs could maximize their points standing by optimizing cooperative efforts with their new teammates.

In the limited space of the arena, this proved to be a challenge, but the pairings did well, improving as the matches continued. The DAA Tinheads team made the final rounds, and their paired team placed second overall.

DAA student participants included Orrin Waldner, Colton Playle, Elena Goldsberry, Austin Hay, DaYeong Ko, Jaelyn Pickett, PawLay Pway, Rosalyn Ray and Casey Waldner. Two DAA team members unable to attend were Tasian Subigca and Sierra Schlenker.

“This was an excellent opportunity to be involved in a larger way in our community and region while showcasing our school,” said principal Anthony Oucharek. “We hope our visitors enjoyed their stay and will share positively with others about what they experienced.”

Mark Seibold is vice president of finance for the Dakota Conference.