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Local robot 'Charles Jarvis V' heading to Denver

Mitchell Christian Robotics Lead Engineer Jens Enga, left, and CEO Luke Knutson secure their robot, "Charles Jarvis the fifth." to the their self-made obstacle course in the school gym. (Matt Gade / Republic) 1 / 3
Mitchell Christian High School senior and Mitchell Christian Robotics CEO Luke Knutson demonstrates how their robot maneuvers on the team's self-made obstacle course in the school gym. (Matt Gade / Republic) 2 / 3
The main goal for the robot is to collect and move items from location to another while avoiding obstacles and not losing the items. (Matt Gade / Republic) 3 / 3

After securing first place in the BEST Robotics competition, the students of the robotics team at Mitchell Christian School are getting ready to pack their bags, and robot, to compete in Denver at the regional championship.

The 14 students from Mitchell were up against 16 other teams in various divisions, including robot game, marketing presentation, engineering notebook, exhibit and team spirit and sportsmanship, that was held recently in Brookings.

In addition to taking first place overall, the student scientists also placed first in the engineering and robot game, and won the Founder's Award for creativity.

"Charles Jarvis V" is the fifth prototype the robotics team has developed under the leadership of Todd Tegethoff, development director at MCS, and his wife Jennifer, who coaches the team.

"Our team is smaller and younger this year with few returning high school students. I'm extra proud of their hard work and accomplishments this season," Jennifer Tegethoff said.

The school has offered the extracurricular activity for seven years and has been competing since at the BEST competition, which stands for "Boosting, Engineering, Science and Technology." It is a six-week nationwide robotics contest held every fall. It is designed to spark the interest of middle and high school students in possible engineering careers.

South Dakota State University and the BEST program's sponsors cover all the material costs for the robots and the schools raise money for their travel expenses, Todd Tegethoff said.

"There are a couple of students I can see moving on to a professional career in the field of engineering. But the program encompasses so much more like problem-solving, oral interpretation and public presentations," Tegethoff said.

The student group creates a company at the beginning of the project which includes a marketing team, a CEO and lead engineer.

The marketing team is tasked with reaching out to other schools in the region to present the project in hopes of getting more children excited to talk about the environment, recycling and engineering bots.

At the beginning of the contest in September the teams were given the theme "Recycling and Garbage Erosion" by BEST Robotics and had six weeks to construct a robot that will complete the desired tasks.

"We designed our robot 'Charles Jarvis V' after a boat that can pick up trash, like empty water bottles, out of the ocean," said Jens Enga, lead engineer of the project. "First we created a base that can move along with a current. Then we attached an arm that folds out in three sections and has a grabber duct attached at the end of the arm, so it can pick up the waste. It took a lot of work and a lot of long nights to get it done."

The students at MCS will face a fierce competition next month in Colorado, where some teams have been competing since the 1993 inception of the BEST Robotics project.

"We have about four weeks left to make some improvements on our robot and I hope we can make it even better," said MCS senior Luke Knutson. "I want to be one of the first teams to get an award at the regionals for Mitchell."

Team members include Knutson, Enga, Kaitlyn Tegethoff, Claire Lepke, Max Reynen, Ana Twiggs, Quinn Henderson, Ephram Imuro, Nathaniel Strong, Nahum Anderburg, Anders Enga, Ryan Baas, George Imuro and Joseph Tegethoff.

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