Basketball fever: During the 2019 men’s college basketball championships in early April, members of the University of Minnesota Robotics team competed in a different kind of basketball competition. Land O’Lakes Bot Shot challenged collegiate robotics teams to design and build a robot that could shoot basketballs.
How the U was involved: University of Minnesota Robotics, one of the four finalist teams, participates in several competitions throughout the year. They build everything from an autonomous snowplow to a NASA robot that can function on Mars. For the last month, about 10 students from the robotics team have been creating a robot capable of shooting hoops.
What happened: Though the U of M team's robot didn't win the competition, student participants say the skills they gained in the process will serve them well in their future careers. “What I like about building robots is seeing the end result,” says Laura Irvine, a mechanical engineering major and the team’s project leader. “Working with the design people and the coding people and using everyone’s specialties to make one final product is a great experience.”
How gifts make a difference: Scholarship support gives students like Irvine, a recipient of the CSE PTC/FIRST Scholarship and University of Minnesota Iron Range Scholarship, the extra time they need to participate in hands-on, collaborative projects like Bot Shot.