Weather Forecast


Stormy winter affects robotics teams' practice times

Snowed-in houses like this one in Duluth's Piedmont neighborhood have posed a challenge for postal deliveries in Minnesota this winter. One robotics team solved that problem by using a 3-D printer to fabricate a part that failed to arrive in the mail before deadline. (BlueDevil Press staff)

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

That motto did not prove true for Team 4230, the TopperBots, from Duluth's Marshall School. Because of weather, the team was unable to receive all of its robot parts -- a gear and a motor -- in time for robot "bag day," the deadline by which all work must be completed.

So to get it done, team members turned to their new 3-D printer.

"As a placeholder, we made a plastic part to match the real part," coach Paul Schonfeld said. "This way, we could build with the plastic part and swap it out with the real part when competition begins."

Not only did the bad weather hold back the mail, but it also caused some teams to miss a few of their build sessions. Members of Team 1259, Paradigm Shift of Milwaukee, were not able to access their school's shop during snow days. So instead, they held robotic-building parties at members' houses.

"We worked a straight 10 to 12 hours on designing the robot," Team 1259 member Sri Kodali said. "We worked on bumper designs. We worked on everything."

Team 3267, Mariner Robotics of Silver Bay, also lost two or three days because of weather.

"The biggest part that we were missing was the practice for our drivers," said Chris Belanger, the team's head coach. "They (hadn't) been able to work with our robot at all."

Some teams, however, have benefited from the blizzard-like storms. During the past few weeks, Team 3018, Nordic Storm of St. Peter, Minn., has had more time than usual to work on their bot. Student Annika Johnson said that because the team is not affiliated with a school, they were able to still meet on days when after-school activities had otherwise been canceled.

Regardless of those setbacks, 120 robots are set to compete this weekend at the DECC. Weather permitting.

Morgan Pirsig contributed to this report.