The Rebel Alliance, Owatonna High School's robotics team, gave a very optimistic preview of their competitive season during a recent robot unveiling. From a more elaborate design program to some new capabilities of its robot, the team seemed ready to roll, or even spin, into its season. The team will be in Duluth this coming weekend.

Junior Nic Pilcher and senior Evan Krueger partnered for the presentation to parents, mentors, and sponsors. The two were especially pleased with the CAD work that was used to better design this year's robot. That includes a much more mobile robot with four wheels that can each spin independently. Pilcher said that took about 900 to 1,000 lines of code to create.

Pilcher stated, "We've had much more success than previous years at this point. We're further along now than we have been ever. We're really looking forward to seeing what we can do out there."

"We've spent a lot more time on design." Pilcher also said the team has welcomed the challenges and the chance to overcome mistakes, "Fail early. Fail often." During the demo night a piece became disconnected while the robot was dangling from a pipe. Someone hollered out, "We'll fix it!"

interview with junior Nic Pilcher

A couple of other team members commented about dealing with adversity. Sophomore Nolan Baker of the build team said he likes problem solving. Freshman Jack Ruiter of the programming team said he enjoys facing new challenges everyday.

Krueger says they have dubbed the robot, Zion, "After the great Zion Williamson (former Duke basketball player). It's kind of a joke with the guys here because of its ability to do very cool things in the way that Zion could on the basketball court."

"We've designed this robot to effectively meet the challenges of this year's game in a way that we feel best situate us to be partnered with other robots and be successful in our competition."

interview with Evan Krueger

Krueger points out the whole process beings with a white board and some sponsors as teams have to build a new robot each year for that year's game. Sponsors were recognized during the robot unveiling.

In this year's game "Infinite Recharge" robots (droids) collect balls (power cells) with the goal gaining points (increasing power ports). FIRST robotics sponsors the events. Top teams can qualify for the Minnesota State High School League sponsored end of season event May 16 at the University of Minnesota.

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