FARGO — In early January, a group of high school students in Fargo got their assignment: Design and build a robot capable of performing functions that would be necessary as part of a space mission.
They were given six weeks to accomplish the task, and that is what they did.
A couple of weeks ago, members of the Red River Rage, which is what the students from Fargo North, Fargo South and Davies High School call themselves, were among the winners of a regional tournament held in Grand Forks.
Now, they are heading to the 2019 FIRST Robotics Championship tournament in Detroit, which will be held April 24-27.
FIRST Robotics is an international high school robotics competition that gives students real-world engineering experience.
There are about 4,800 teams around the world and about 600 will compete in Detroit, according to Ellen Shafer, one of several mentors of the local high school team, which includes her son, Ethan Shafer, a junior at North High.
This year was only the second year that the Rage have competed and it was the second time in as many years that the team earned a berth at the Detroit tournament, according to Ellen Shafer, who said this year's robot projects have a space theme in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.
As a result, she said, teams were tasked with designing autonomous robots that can load cargo and climb things.
In addition to the design and construction of a robot, teams were also responsible for creating the computer code that controls their creations.
According to Shafer, there is more to the competition than engineering and science.
"It's a really well-rounded competition," she said, adding that participants are "held accountable if they're not polite and if their fans aren't polite."
Other Rage team members include: Steven Champagne; Benjamin Hoefs; Bennett Lantz; Ethan Ober; Jasmine Sateren; Liliath Sateren; Clarissa Satrom; Elijah Satrom; Enoch Satrom; Ethan Shafer; Sunjeev Shaik; Jacob Shelver; Josiah Stoll; Nathanael Stoll; Maximus Thykeson; and Marvin Tian.
Other mentors include: Brad Poppe, David Linder; Tim Ryan; Roger Amundson; Jason Ryan; Bethany Teets; Lucas Stein; and coach Steve McNamee.
The trip to Detroit will require dollars, and a fundraising event was held Wednesday night, March 28.
Anyone who wishes to contribute to the effort can donate by sending checks payable to: STEM Alliance C/O the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp., 51 Broadway N. Suite 500, Fargo, ND 58102-4979.
Donations can also be made online at www.stemalliancefm.org.