NCTC Pioneers Robotics Advance to World Championship

This past Saturday NCTC’s Pioneers Robotics Teams competed in a 10 Team VEX Robotics Tournament at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus. The list of teams competing included the St Cloud Technical and Community College, Riverland Technical College, Pine Technical College, The University of Minnesota, Bemidji State University, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. The NCTC Pioneers Robotics competed with three college teams.

Pioneers Robotics Team ETAS
Pioneers Team ETAS is comprised of second year students from the Electronics Technology Automated Systems (ETAS) Program. Don Johaneck, Ian Anderson, Curtis Johnson, and Nate Ricks designed and constructed a unique robot which featured custom 3D printed parts and many laser cut components. This robot picked up game objects and placed them into a fabric nest. When triggered, a spring loaded mechanism snapped the fabric nest tight, flinging the game objects to the opposite side of the field to score points in the game. The robot also used computer mice as navigation sensors to autonomously move the robot into a desired location. A touch screen was also incorporated to select the robots location on the competition field. This is truly ambitious and creative design which earned Team ETAS the Excellence Award, the highest honor at a VEX Robotics Tournament, and an invitation to the World Championship Tournament. The Pioneers ETAS team is looking forward to the challenges of improving their robot design and fundraising in preparation for the World Championship Tournament in April.

Pioneers Robotics Team ETAS2
The ETAS2 team includes first year students in the ETAS program. The ETAS2 team build two robots. Dustin Nelson and Travis Foss developed a large bulldozer style robot with high speed motors dedicated to pushing game objects on the field. Two weeks before the competition Dustin and Travis decided to construct another robot capable of gathering and lifting game objects with a studded claw. During Saturday’s tournament team ETAS2 used the claw robot throughout the qualification and elimination rounds. Team ETAS2 performed very well making it all the way to the final match against the South Dakota team. All day long South Dakota rapidly cleared nearly every game object from their side of the field. In the final match ETAS2 brought in their secret weapon, the bulldozer pushing robot. Travis convinced the DJ to play Salt-N-Pepper’s 80’s pop hit “Push It” to compliment the bulldozer robot’s appearance. All this time ETAS2 was competing with their left hand robot, and for the final match South Dakota realized ETAS2 is right handed. In the end, South Dakota was too quick and even the bulldozer couldn’t match their speed. The ETAS2 theatrical robot swap was entertaining for all and with no hard feelings team ETAS2 proudly shook hands with South Dakota congratulating them on solid win and wishing them good luck at the World Championship Tournament.

Pioneers Robotics Team ETAS3
NCTC Pioneers also had a team from the East Grand Forks Campus, ETAS3, which represents students from the Architectural Drafting and Liberal Arts Programs. Noah Dahlen, Evan Wurden, Jacob Slater, and Akayla Rondorf designed a massive pincher bot with a complex lifting mechanism. At the beginning of the day team ETAS3 was plagued with mechanical failures on the robot lift mechanism. These students worked diligently throughout the day to remedy the mechanical problems and improve the robot’s lifting performance. Between matches ETAS3 rebuild their pinchers, reinforced the lift mechanism, and added additional motors to the lift mechanism. The ETAS3 robot performance kept improving at the team showcased a resilient attitude.

Northland Community and Technical College (NCTC) 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 degrees (A.A.S., A.S., A.A.) in more than 80 areas of study, workforce training and education programs. NCTC is a member of Minnesota State, the fourth-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. NCTC is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer. For more information about Northland Community & Technical College, visit or call 1.800.959.6282.