For the first year ever, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) recognized robotics as a sport and a state competition took place. One of 28 teams to compete May 19 at the University of Minnesota, the Anoka High School (AHS) FIRST Robotics team placed second at the competition.
Kathy Messer, the team’s adviser, said Pentair Corporation offers $10,000 a year to AHS for competition fees and additional costs, including bussing, additional parts for the robot, pit materials and printing fees. Pentair employees also offer mentor support. Pentair was recently recognized by the Anoka-Hennepin School Board for this support.
“We’ve had a number of their employees mentor the team throughout the years,” Messer said. “This involves many volunteer hours on the mentors’ part.”
The mentors are invaluable to the entire process of building the robot, she said. Mentors help with ideas, design work, ordering parts, putting the robot together, electrical and programming work and troubleshooting.
“The students do the work but they wouldn’t have a clue where to start if it was not for the mentors,” Messer said. “The mentors guide them through every step along the way.”
The team’s build season is six weeks long; Messer said it is a very intense six weeks. Pentair employees build the parts the students design. The employees at the plant provide sheet metal cutting, welding and painting. This year they “printed” parts with a special “printer” they have at their plant that makes 3D plastic parts from a design.
Pentair’s involvement as mentors is invaluable to the students.
“They teach the team skills the students would not have the opportunity to learn at this point in their life without their involvement,” Messer said. “The kids learn what the engineering process is like. They learn how to work with tight deadlines. The hands-on experience they get from this process is something you cannot get from a book.
“This experience is something that will carry into their everyday life and will help shape their future.”
Messer said there would not be an AHS FIRST Robotics team without Pentair’s support.
“By providing their support, they are strengthening the bonds between business and school,” she said. “They provide the tools necessary for these future engineers and scientists to succeed. I cannot say enough good things about this program and the support Pentair has provided to us to allow us to offer it to our students.”