Binary Battalion, St. Michael-Albertville High School’s robotics team, has taken on its second year with a new measure of confidence and focus. The team has earned a place at this year’s state tournament, which takes place Saturday, May 18. Of the state’s 221 high school robotics teams, only 36 advance to state tournament competition.
“We received 5 bonus points at regionals for being a 2nd year team (rookie teams get 10), which was enough to get us over the hump and into the tournament this year,” team mentor Travis Weber explained.
Weber said this year’s challenge is an entirely new game compared with their first year, and the team built this year’s robot, Ozzy, for a deep space themed mission, which was presented by Boeing. In the game, two alliances of deep space travelers race to place hatch panels on their rockets and cargo ships, load cargo and return to their rockets safely before the next dust storm approaches.
“You put on a hatch, and you get points,” explained junior Ethan VanVooren, who has been on the team since it began last year. “You’re not actually fighting over something, you’re seeing who can get the most stuff on in time.”
VanVooren said a hatch is essentially plexiglass with Velcro on the edges to make it stick. The cargo are large dodgeballs that the robot must put into the rocket, while ensuring hatches are in place to prevent cargo from falling out.
“I enjoy it,” he said of the team. “It’s fun. You meet a lot of people and make new friendships.”
Binary Battalion relies on sponsorship to make their robotics team possible, and they thanked platinum sponsors Philips and Metro Mold & Design for being “a huge factor to our success.” A number of other businesses have helped the team as well.
“I think we were a lot more confident this year,” Weber said of the team’s sophomore year. “We were able to focus on strategy and build quality more so than struggling just to make it drive.”
Saturday’s state competition takes place at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities’ Mariucci Arena, with opening ceremonies beginning at 8:15 a.m.