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Southwest High School Robotics Team Ultraviolet Selected for World Championship Competition 

After season of rebuilding due to pandemic, Minneapolis high school team chosen to compete with its robot BERT on the world stage. 

MINNEAPOLIS, M.N., April 12, 2022 — Southwest High School Robotics Team Ultraviolet, Team 2129, today announced that it has been selected to face off with teams from 27 countries at the FIRST Championship competition in Houston, Texas, from April 20 to April 23, 2022.  The team won this honor over the weekend based on its finalist finish at the North Star Regional Competition held at the University of Minnesota, 3M Arena at Mariucci. 

Although Ultraviolet has been a team since 2006, this is the first time the team has made it to the world championship.  The pandemic took a toll on Ultraviolet as it did many clubs and teams around the world.  The 2020-2021 school year saw no robot fabrication, no live competitions, and the graduation of most of the team’s leadership.  

2021-2022 has been a rebuilding year for the team of thirteen members.  For nine of its members, it was their first year competing.  “This team is incredibly hard-working and collegial,” said team mentor Tim Dirr, who worked for 30 years at 3M in its laboratories and information technology department before his retirement and has been involved in FIRST robotics teams for 17 years.  “I’m amazed at the kids who had so much to learn this year and worked hundreds and hundreds of hours to learn what they needed and to build a robot ready to compete.  The team is predominantly freshmen and sophomores, and some of the team members have individually put in over 300 hours building the robot. Many of the team members walked in the door cold in September and since then have mastered computer-aided design (CAD), the CNC router, a machine that mills metal, and the Java programming language needed to program the robot, not to mention building and rebuilding the robot in an iterative design and improvement process. For such a small a team to be so accomplished is really impressive.” 

Although the team is small, it passed up teams three times its size with its robot BERT. The team designed BERT to meet the 2022 challenge called Rapid React.  For Rapid React, teams compete to shoot “cargo” balls into upper and lower hubs, both autonomously and with human operators.  Robots also score points by climbing up four bars traversing diagonally through the air.  During competitions, each school’s robot competes in several qualification matches.  Then, the top teams form alliances and compete in groups of three teams against other alliances.  Ultraviolet was chosen to join an alliance by the Technocrats, a team from Hopkins High School, and Team F.R.E.D., a team from Warroad, Minnesota. 

The team honed its design and spent hours and hours practicing its driving at the Minneapolis Urban Robotics Alliance (MURA) field in North Minneapolis.  The field is run by a coalition of Twin Cities robotics teams including Ultraviolet (2129), Herobotics (2500) from Patrick Henry High School, Millerbots (2549) from Washburn High School, Green Machine (1816) from Edina High School, and Technocrats (2239) from Hopkins High School. Four of these teams made it to the quarterfinals at Saturday’s regional competition.  At MURA, the teams connect and the camaraderie that develops carries over into competitions.  Teams often loan tools, share experience, and help each other with programming challenges, all in the spirit of FIRST Robotics.   

El Anderson, the team’s business, marketing, and outreach lead, safety captain, and scouting lead, said “I joined the team because I wanted to do website design.  We developed a new website this year, and I have enjoyed that process and keeping it updated.”  El has found it “Great to see people so committed to STEM operating in a cohesive work environment.  My teammates are respectful and listen to everyone’s ideas.  I am so happy to see how far the team has come.  Going to the World Championship is gigantic - everything we do going forward is a new record for the team!”  Based on work by El and others on the team, Ultraviolet won the Imagery Award at the Northern Lights Regional Competition in Duluth in March. 

The team is extremely excited about the world championship opportunity.  “Our team is honored to have the opportunity to compete at the FIRST Robotics World Championship!  Most of our students are new to the team this season and have worked incredibly hard to build the many skills necessary to compete at this level!  I would also like to thank our sponsors for their generous support that has made this opportunity possible!” said Nate King, Ultraviolet Co-Captain and winner of the 2022 FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award at the Duluth Northern Lights Regional Competition for student leaders who have led their teams and communities to increased awareness for FIRST and its mission while achieving personal technical expertise and accomplishment. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey kicked off the North Star Regional Competition and afterward sent his congratulations to Ultraviolet on Facebook, “So impressed by [the] robotics teams last Friday – especially by our MPLS squads from Washburn, Patrick Henry, Edison, and Southwest.  A big congrats to Team 2129 from Southwest for making it to the . . . Championships coming up next week in Houston.” 

 

The World Championship competition will be streamed live.  See https://www.firstchampionship.org/ for details on how to cheer on Ultraviolet and other Minnesota teams. 

Press Release