Northern MN Students Take Top Honors At Dream It Do It Northern MN VEX Robotics Tournament

Team 4499B, named A-I, from the Bemidji Civil Air Patrol, won the Excellence Award at the Dream It Do It Northern Minnesota VEX Robotics Tournament on Saturday, November 23, hosted by Northland Community and Technical College. By winning this award, the team earned their second invitation to the VEX Robotics Competition World Championship in Anaheim, California, in three years. One team member stated, “This is like winning the Super Bowl!”

Team A-I was also on the winning alliance, along with Team 3864B, Lancaster Robotics, from Lancaster School in Lancaster and Team 4003E, Extra-A Team, from Bagley High School in Bagley. This alliance of three teams competed against 21 other teams to be named Tournament Champions.

Team 4448A, the RLF Eagles, from Lafayette High School in Red Lake Falls, won the Design Award for their engineering process and documentation. The judges noted that the team had a unique design, strong fabrication and a well-documented process that allowed them to avoid repeating mistakes.

Team 7458G, the Fisher Knights from Fisher High School in Fisher, won the Sportsmanship Award for working well with other teams, encouraging each other and being ambitious while still collaborating with others.

Team 4149C, the Iron Chargers from Grygla Public Schools in Grygla, won the Judges Award. The judges shared they were a contender in every category, displayed sportsmanship and enthusiasm and had a well-designed robot. They also noted their robot was well-designed, and the team handled the bumps in their preparation for the tournament well, like being without a key piece of equipment for three weeks.

Isaac Kvasager, the Iron Chargers’ coach, shared that he values the opportunity for students to have the opportunity to practice “real world problem solving, not just theoretical thinking. VEX Robotics gives students a chance to excel.”

To prepare for the tournament, each team learned the game Toss Up, which involves maneuvering large balls into different zones, stashing small balls into containers and hanging robots from a bar at the end of the game. They designed, built and programmed their robot using the VEX Robotics Design System, using their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They also learned an equally important set of skills, including communication, critical thinking, project management and teamwork.

The Dream It Do It Northern Minnesota VEX Robotics Tournament is one of three tournaments in Minnesota, and several of the teams who competed at Northland will also compete at the Dream It Do It Central Minnesota VEX Tournament. These tournaments are part of more than 400 tournaments taking place throughout the 2013-2014 season, engaging more than 7,300 teams from 26 countries around the world.

Many of the Minnesota VEX Robotics Teams received VEX kits from colleges that are part of 360-degrees Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence, including Northland and Bemidji State University. Doug Coutlee and Tom Stinar, mentors for the team from the Bemidji Civil Air Patrol, noted the team’s success is linked to the support from 360-degrees Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence.

Andrew Dahlen, Event Coordinator and Electronics Instructor at Northland states, “Careers in technology fields are fantastic opportunities that offer interesting and dynamic work with high wages and benefits. However, these opportunities are often invisible to the traditional high school student. The VEX Robotics Competition is attracting our bright young students into STEM Careers. While participating in the VEX Robotics Competition, students are learning mechanical design, troubleshooting, programming, innovative problem solving, presentation and time management skills. These are the same technical skills needed by the manufacturing industry in order to be competitive and grow. The energy at the VEX Robotics Competition is contagious. I hope that each student participating in this event is infected with a desire to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or manufacturing.”

The Dream It Do It Northern Minnesota VEX Robotics Tournament was supported by DigiKey Corporation, Central Boiler and the 360-degrees Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence. Kirsten Michalke, Director of Workforce Development at Northland shares, “We appreciate industry’s involvement. Not only does their financial support make this event possible, but they give of their time during the event. Serving as judges, they offer useful feedback and industry insights for these students along with showing that fulfilling careers in robotics and manufacturing are available.”

Photos from the day are posted on Dream It Do It Minnesota’s Facebook page. To learn more about Dream It Do It Minnesota, visit More information about the VEX Robotics Competition is available at and

Northland Community and Technical College is a comprehensive college with campuses in Thief River Falls, MN and East Grand Forks, MN. NCTC also has an aerospace site in Thief River Falls, MN and a satellite site in Roseau, MN. NCTC offers certificates, diplomas, transfer courses, two-year AAS degrees in more than 60 areas of study, workforce training and education programs. NCTC is a member of Minnesota State, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. NCTC is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer & educator. For more information about Northland Community & Technical College, visit or call 1.800.959.6282.