Weather Forecast


Robotics in the works at Red Wing High School

Red Wing High School might soon have a new team. This team, however, will be building a robot.

The School Board unanimously approved the expansion of the robotics program Monday night to include a potential team at Red Wing High School. Tower View Alternative High School has had a program for a few years.

“I think it really shows a lot of initiative of what parents and students want and initiative of enhancement and excitement about something they truly want to incorporate into their own education,” board member Janie Farrar said.

There is a need at Red Wing High School, said Brian Cashman, gifted and talented coordinator for Red Wing Public Schools.

“I think if we can make this happen we’d have an interested group of students that would really take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

The passage of the motion ensures Tower View the continuance of its program, Cashman said, adding the question now is whether Red Wing High School will be able to get everything in place before the start of the season.

The build season starts in early January, he said, and the one piece still missing is the coach.

“This is an extremely well-received program nationally,” board member Mark Ryan. The national competition for this program has previously filled the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, he said.

Cashman agreed that the program is nationally respected and benefits students.

“In fact, there are even universities – University of Minnesota being one – that, if a student has participated in robotics, (the student) gets really a leg up in terms of entrance into some of their engineering programs,” he said.

The approximate cost to run an effective team is $12,000, but Cashman said the funding is of little concern. By the end of the week he said a nationally based program grant should come through for the Red Wing High School team.

FIRST Robotics has tremendous fundraising capability, Cashman said. There will be some local funds used, he added, but there will be support from the FIRST organization. FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is a continuum of the science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum.

The school district would not be expected to provide any financial support outside of a salary or stipend for the coach. A signed memorandum of agreement with Education Minnesota resulted in a $1,400 stipend for Tower View’s robotics adviser in the 2012-13 school year.

Aside from the immediate benefits for high school students, Cashman said the program could expand and provides opportunities students as early as kindergarten. There are robotics programs from entry-level all the way through high school, he said.

“I’d like to push in that direction,” Cashman said. “It will take some time, but I think there’s a lot of potential there.”

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


(651) 301-7876