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Maple Grove, Osseo Robotics Teams Build Success

Feb 15, 2016 10:07PM ● Published by Doug Erlien

Maple Grove Senior High Robotics Team

Robotics continues to grow at a rapid rate. The competition that combines work ethic, strategy, but more than anything the teamwork provides students interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) the opportunity to put their skills on display.

Osseo Senior High Robotics team 
Building Success at Osseo
Once the final school bell rings at 
Osseo Senior High School, students with a thirst for engineering and the vision to build make their way to coach John Licciardi’s room. Students Daren Malaythong and Xander Nelson are in their second year in the program.

“In ninth grade we actually came here from the junior high and took Intro to Engineering with Licciardi,” Malaythong said. “I think we just wanted to be in this.”

“By the spring, of freshman year, we were like 'we want to do this, why can’t we do this'," Nelson said.

It is that interest that has the program at Osseo at an all-time high.

“I got into the program because I’m a tech-ed instructor in the first place,” Licciardi said. “The biggest thing we’ve done is made a switch in platforms. When I first came in it was a FIRST robotics competition and I realized the value of using the VEX competition because it not only is more financially efficient, but in my opinion, is a little bit more of a level playing field for everybody.”

Up until this year, the freshman weren’t allowed to participate. Now with the freshman in the 
Osseo Senior High Robotics team member
high schools, there is growing interest in the program and the numbers involved have never been higher.

“Fun first, it’s gotta be fun for you otherwise it’s not going to be rewarding,” Licciardi said. “Secondly, you have to learn to fail a lot of times and still be okay with it.”

Seven teams from Osseo participated in the VEX State Competition in January. A year ago, the program qualified for the World Championship in Kentucky.

“When these kids move on, they will have learned perseverance through failure, they’ve learned teamwork, outside of all the technical skills they already had,” Licciardi said.

Maple Grove Senior High Robotics team
Making a Mark in Maple Grove
Over at 
Maple Grove Senior High School, team 2526 gathers together to continue to put the pieces together for the FIRST Robotics Competition. The first of two regional competitions take place in early March in Duluth, the second at the end of March in Cedar Falls Iowa. The mission is to advance to the World Competition in St. Louis. Erik Malm leads the group that provides opportunity for kids interested in everything from science to business.

“All the kids have sub departments that they work on. For the most part, they have projects they can work on from day-to-day,” said Malm. “We have a few adult mentors here and they work with whoever needs the most help.”

Robotics isn’t like other teams at Maple Grove. What they have proved is that they are self-sustaining. They annually raise more than $100,000 to pay for associated costs. The team has grown every single year, according to Malm, but the biggest need for the team is adult volunteers.

“A lot of FRC teams have a much smaller student to adult ratio than we do,” Malm said. “Our 
Maple Grove Senior High Robotics team
number of students grows faster than our adult mentors. As a teacher, it is important to me that every student is doing something and learning something and has some level of guidance.”

The team is run, in many ways, like a business that in all aspects has been successful.

“I’m consistently impressed by what they are capable of,” Malm said. “Even though I do this every year, I’m always just pleasantly and happily surprised by how high quality work they do.” 
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