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Duluth East robotics team finishes second at world championship

Duluth East Daredevils co-Captain Anna Karas is surrounded by her teammates in celebration on the Einstein Field at the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis on Saturday night. The Daredevils were in an alliance that finished second. (Photo by Samuel Kuutti)1 / 2
The Duluth East Daredevils pose for a team photo with their banner and medals after finishing second at the FIRST Robotics World Championships on Saturday night in St. Louis. Details: http://bit.ly/1JqiKAR2 / 2

The Duluth East Daredevils have gone where no other Minnesota robotics team has gone before.

The students from Duluth East High School finished second at the FIRST Robotics World Championships on Saturday night in St. Louis.

The more than 40 team memebrs and mentors are expected to return to East about 8 p.m. tonight by bus and a welcome home event is planned at that time.

Elise Peterson Kuutti, a mentor for the Daredevils, said it’s further than any Minnesota robotics team has previously reached at the world championships.

The Daredevils had been ranked 52nd in their division and, for a time early Saturday, “things looked bleak,” the team reported in an e-mail. “(But) the tides turned for the Daredevils when top-ranking teams were scouting for alliance partners to choose. The Daredevils showed that their robot is versatile on the field and could perform many tote-stacking tasks to score points.”

The Duluth East team was chosen to join an alliance with top-ranking Wave Robotics of Oshkosh, Wis., and the High Rollers from Las Vegas. The Secret City Wildbots of Oak Ridge, Tenn., also were chosen to join the alliance. Cooperation and alliance-building is a key part of FIRST Robotics competitions.

The alliance won its division and went on to advance from the quarterfinals to the semifinals, and then from the semifinals to the finals — also known as the “Einstein” field. After three rounds, the alliance that included the Daredevils finished a close second to an alliance of teams from California and Texas.

“This success is a result of group of highly dedicated students, supportive parents and mentors, and caring Duluth community,” the team said via e-mail.

The Duluth East team had been in St. Louis competing since Wednesday. Saturday was the last day of the championships.

FIRST is an acronym of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. This year’s challenge, “Recycle Rush,” was to build a robot that could lift boxes onto each other and top it off with a recycling bin while students tried to have their robot throw pool noodles at the opposing teams’ robots.

The Daredevils are representing Duluth after winning a spot in the championship by receiving the Chairman’s Award this season for their work in the community. Team members reported that they knew from their previous three trips to the world championships that the level of competition would increase — so they modified their robot, Acervus, to be able to stack the maximum six totes and a container, one more tote than at regionals.