Local student competes in robotics championship

NEW ULM – A New Ulm student with a keen interest in computers and robotics recently returned from St. Louis where he competed internationally with a southern Minnesota team.

Alex Guggisberg, a student at the Minnesota New Country School, a technology project-based public charter school in Henderson, competed with 8,000 other high school students on 400 teams from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Turkey in the FIRST ROBOTICS Competition (FRC) Championship on April 24-27 at the Edward Jones Dome.

Guggisberg and his Nordic Storm team, which is based in St. Peter, were among 16 Minnesota teams out of 181 state teams that earned a spot in the international contest.

Two weeks earlier, the Nordic Storm team won the Engineering Inspiration Award in state competition, which was held at Williams and Mariucci arenas at the University of Minnesota.

“We had a choice of building a robot for Frisbee-throwing into an opponent’s goal or climbing a 12-foot pyramid,” Guggisberg said. “We chose the pyramid-climbing event. Our 120-pound robot looked something like a hedge trimmer.”

Robots were built in a six-week period from a common kit of parts provided by FIRST. Students design robots on paper and with computer-aided design (CAD) software with assistance from mentors.

Nordic Storm was supported by two New Ulm manufacturers – DLC Manufacturing & Fabrication for laser cutting and Windings, Inc. for design, fabrication and engineering talent.

Last year, Guggisberg and his New Country School classmates joined the Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop team that won the Lake Superior All Star Rookie Award in Duluth. That team overcame significant challenges including completing robot construction during a snowstorm. It earned a spot at the international contest in St. Louis.

Guggisberg plans to become a computer programmer and security expert, working with robots.

Alex’ mother Louise Guggisberg of New Ulm said she was thankful New Ulm “had some great resources” to support the team.

“The Boy Scouts are interested in starting another area team, but we need more technically skilled adults,” she said. “Hopefully, someone out there will see some merit in this program” (and work with the team).

Alex is the grandson of Linus and Loraine Guggisberg of Essig.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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