Frazee is a member of NMRC group

Contributed photo
Through sponsor donations, the Northern Minnesota Robotics Conference has acquired an official truck for travel to various robotics events throughout Minnesota and North Dakota.

By Jesse Frost

Special to the Forum

The Northern Minnesota Robotics Conference (NMRC) received a truck for a mobile robotics field and equipment to be deployed across Northern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota.

Two years ago, thanks to their partners, the NMRC was fortunate to acquire a new trailer for mobile operations that directly supports students engaging in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities. 

This trailer has proven vital to move a wide range of equipment to schools and events around a 35,000 square mile territory. 

When adding any services to an organization’s capabilities new challenges are bound to emerge. In this instance, as anticipated, there was great demand for the equipment that the trailer brings. However several teams and volunteers had limited availability of vehicles at their schools that were adequate for hauling something of this size and weight safely and efficiently.

With this new need identified we once again set out to close any gap that may exist between area students and the opportunities they deserve. After careful deliberation we determined the best way forward was for the NMRC to purchase a vehicle that could meet these demands. 

As the NMRC layed out their plans to our regional supporters they were pleased at the positive responses we got from them. The group set out to raise more than $67,000 for this initiative and anticipated that the fundraising efforts would take several months to complete. With their generous support NMRC’s goal was achieved within weeks rather than months. 

The charitable financial backers for this initiative included the primary lead sponsor Enbridge Energy and our two supporting sponsors the North Country Vocational Cooperative Center and St. Cloud State University’s Environmental and Technical Studies Department. We also received in kind contributions from Ross Lewis Sign (Bemidji) for the great artwork which adorns the vehicle. Special counsel and assistance for this project was also provided by Kenny’s Goodyear Tire and Auto (Bemidji) and Diamond Buick GMC (Alexandria). Without their assistance the work we do for kids would not be possible. 

Nearly 30 students from both Minnesota and North Dakota participated in this two-day educational event. 

The truck has also been deployed to the Beltrami County Fairgrounds for an educational showcase at the Beltrami County Ag Association Expo and Breakfast in June. Additionally, it traveled to Minneapolis for supporting educational sessions at the national United National Indian Tribal Youth conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

During this event more than 200 youth from all over the country got their hands on robots and explored the many educational components associated with them. It even saw parade action, in its first of many, in Bemidji over the Fourth of July. 

Editor’s note: The Frazee Kaotic Robotics team is a member of the NMRC.