Dutch Robots Take Over State


The Bionic Dutch, after a slow start to the year, won state. Senior Lucas Schakel has been in the robotics club all four years.


“My freshman year, I started out by helping design and build components of the robot. With the knowledge I gained that year, the next year I stepped up to be the team’s software design leader. Junior year, I became the team captain/leader,” said Schakel. 


According to Schakel the season started late because the team struggled to find a new coach.


“We’ve had scheduling issues with our coach.  He works at Vermeer, and the times we wanted to meet he was cleaning up from the tornado in 2017 and the new building going there. We basically lost our coach for a year.  We couldn’t compete because of that. Then COVID really hit,” said junior Trevor Hundt. “We’ve been struggling to find a coach since.”


In October, Industrial Technology teacher Brent Ewell volunteered to be coach.


 “By the end of November, we began our competitive season, entering with a robot that was only partially-working. During our competitive season, we grew a lot as a team, solving issues quickly and improving really well. In the end, I feel like our team’s strengths have grown over the season, and I’m proud of where we finished,” said Schakel. “Winning the state title was quite the accomplishment for our team, and it felt awesome to find out that our hard work and long nights in the lab paid off. It was also great seeing all of the community support we got after we took home the 1st place trophy.”


Schakel has appreciated the opportunity to be on the robotics team.


“My favorite part of being on the robotics team is the challenge that comes with designing, building, and working with a robot. Unlike any other sport, this challenge puts your engineering and design skills to the test, and is intense in the fact that modifications and redesigns must be done within a short time before you have to compete again,” said Schakel. “This idea is what makes a robotics challenge exciting and fun. I enjoy being able to create things on-the-fly to solve problems that arise to make our design as close to perfect as possible.”