Conference acquires field created by high school
By Robert Williams
The Northern Minnesota Robotics Conference (NMRC) has purchased a robotics competition field to be deployed across Northern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota.
The NMRC includes 29 area teams, including Frazee-Vergas’ KAOTIC Robotics and Perham’s Full Metal Jackets teams. Frazee is one of 15 founding member teams; Perham is in its first year of conference membership.
Being part of a large geographic area has created problems for robotics teams in the northern half of the state compared to their peers in central Minnesota.
The NMRC covers more than 35,000 square miles and stretches from Hatton, N.D. to Grand Marais.
For the vast majority of teams, access to a fully functional robotics field other than during competition is virtually nonexistent.
Until recently there was only one FIRST robotics competition field in Minnesota, that a team could possibly get access to year round. There are now five fields in Minnesota which can potentially be used by teams. However, there are only two fields north of the Twin Cities and one of those is based in Duluth, leaving one field for the rest of northern Minnesota to provide opportunities to teams.
For the past eight years, the Nevis H.S. team has worked diligently to help area teams by giving them access to their robotics field throughout the season. The Nevis Tech-No-Tigers have hosted both kickoff events and scrimmages prior to the competition portion of each FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) season.
This allows teams to get on the field for the first time in almost nine months. They have also transported, set up, and run this field for teams to practice on during large scale regional robotics competitions in both Duluth and Grand Forks. The large-scale event in Duluth has had as many as 124 teams from around the world in attendance in recent years.
“The charitable work that the Nevis team has done to help teams around them over the years has been exceptional. However, as with any group, resources can be limited and there is only so much time, talent, and energy to go around. With this in mind the Tech-No-Tigers from Nevis and the NMRC have finalized an agreement that will continue this legacy of support. Beyond that our joint goal is that our work grows in order to help more students each and every year.”Jesse Frost, President of the NMRC in a news release
Financial support from partner Sourcewell, a cooperative purchasing organization based in Staples, allowed the NMRC to purchase the competition field. The acquisition of this field now places the responsibility upon the NMRC and its 29 member teams as a whole rather than any one team to continue the legacy that has been started by the Nevis team.
This field’s first task under NMRC ownership was to support the Great Northern Regional robotics competition that was held in Grand Forks at the Alerus Center March 23-26.
This event hosted 49 teams from across Minnesota and North Dakota who came to compete. The field was set up for teams to test their robots mechanisms, as well as having space to practice.
The conference is looking to expand and move the field around to several different communities throughout the NMRC network during the season if a suitable space can be secured for its set-up.
Preparations are already being made for the field to make first-time stops in Alexandria for the NMRC Championship event and Brainerd in the coming season. These events have traveled to a new location each year since 2017, to expose communities who may be unfamiliar with this sport.
The STEM Alliance of Fargo Moorhead and members of the Central Minnesota Robotic Hub (CMNRH) about special summer event showcases may be potential users of the field or its components.
“These types of events are crucial to sparking the interest in our youth about topics like engineering, coding, machining, and more,” said Frost.
For more information about this NMRC project or other general information visit www.NMRConference.org or inquire via email at firstname.lastname@example.org