These are the droids you’re looking for

You can be among the first to meet the Duluth East Daredevils’ latest robot during the team’s annual open house Thursday.

The event begins at 6 p.m. in the Duluth East library with refreshments and an overview of this year’s robotics challenge, “Aerial Assist.” The robot and its name will be unveiled, and the students will demonstrate its skills around 6:45 p.m. in the school’s mezzanine.

Dust off your computer’s mouse and get ready to click-vote for your favorite of four local nonprofits to receive $10,000 from a regional IT firm.

Compudyne, a firm with offices in Duluth, Hibbing, St. Paul and Marquette, Mich., is donating the money to a nonprofit in honor of its 25th anniversary, and it wants the region to pick who gets it.

There are four nonprofits on the ballot.
In Duluth:

* First Witness — trains professionals to conduct nontraumatic forensic interviews for child-abuse victims.

* Damiano Center — responds to needs of low-income, unemployed and working poor in the community.

In Hibbing:

* Beyond the Yellow Ribbon — supports soldiers and veterans during and after deployment.

* Pregnancy LifeCare Center — offers counseling, information and assistance during and after pregnancy.

To vote, go to compudyne.net/25years.

Duluth robotics team to face Pacific competition

Eh? wanted to know why a high school robotics team from Hawaii was coming to Duluth to compete in a regional competition in early March, so we called Glenn Lee, the team’s coach.

“If you just stay in your own backyard, you’re never going to get better,” explained Lee, coach of “The Hawaiian Kids,” from Waialua, Hawaii, whose backyard is the North Shore of Oahu.

So Lee, 42, who co-founded the team 15 years ago, has taken his team to Washington, D.C., Houston, New York City, Salt Lake City and many other locations — to more different regionals, he said, than any other program in the world. They chose Duluth this year, he said, because they haven’t been to Minnesota before.

“As you can imagine, it’s quite expensive,” Lee said about all that traveling.
It will cost $1,100 per head to bring 24 kids and adults to Duluth, Lee said, and something in the neighborhood of $5,000 to ship the robot. The program’s overall budget is between $150,000 and $250,000 annually.

If this sounds like the invasion of the rich kids, it’s not. Waialua, in a century-old plantation community, is one of the poorest, smallest, most rural places in Hawaii, Lee said.
But Lee has gotten good at writing grant proposals, and the program has attracted a healthy share of corporate sponsors, he explained.

Among them is Dole, and because of that the team will be bringing fresh pineapples to share in Duluth.

They also might want to invest in some extra outerwear.

“The big talk in Hawaii right now is it’s too cold,” Lee said on Tuesday. “It’s 61.”

Internet-surfin’ seniors

Seniors in need of computer training are invited to Senior Surf Day from 1-3 p.m. today and Sept. 24 at the Rainbow Senior Center, 211 N. Third Ave. E.

Participants are asked to pick one of the dates to attend. You’ll learn computer basics, how to search the Internet and access websites of interest to seniors. The class is designed for beginners. To register, call (800) 333-2433.

Watch kids talk to astronaut in space

The Duluth Children’s Museum is preparing for a special chat between a group of local kids and an astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station, via amateur radio.

The 10-minute live forum will take place today starting at 10:03 a.m. and will bounce between the museum’s participants and astronauts as the astronauts orbit 250 miles above Earth.

The public is invited to listen and engage in special engineering and space activities surrounding the radio contact. Doors to the “command center” open to the public at 9:30 a.m. with no admittance after 9:45 a.m. Refreshments will be served and admittance will be free up until 9:45 a.m. The museum is located at 115 S. 29th Ave. W. in the Clyde Iron complex.

Duluth’s cops are popular online

They hate to brag, but the Duluth Police Department did let slip that its Facebook page is one of the 10 most “liked” pages in the country among departments of its size.

As of Friday afternoon, it was No. 9, to be precise, behind police and sheriffs’ departments in a lot of southern cities and counties plus the Rapid City (S.D.) Police Department. The Duluth Police Department has 9,264 “likes,” which was 55 more than the Monroe County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office. Unfortunately it’s also 111 fewer likes than the Taunton (Mass.) Police Department (9,375).

The department to beat in the category is the Livingston Parish (La.) Sheriff’s Office, which has 13,789 likes. The most-liked department in the country, all categories: New York with nearly 179,000 likes.

Duluth gets technical

Well, it only took until 2013, but Duluth’s first Marketing Technology Summit is on the horizon.

The free, half-day conference is 8-11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Inn on Lake Superior, 350 Canal Park Drive. The topics of the morning include customer-relationship management, marketing automation and aligning sales and marketing efforts to help the bottom line.

You created a robot

Lake Superior College says its Robotics Summer Camp develops critical thinking skills, creates problem-solving scenarios and teaches the importance of teamwork.

Plus it’s four full days your teen can spend away from the TV or Xbox.

From June 17-20, Duluth-area students ages 13-17 will have a chance to work in teams to build robots at LSC. They’ll use a variety of manufacturing tools and equipment in the process while meeting new friends and learning valuable skills for their future endeavors.

Wanna register? Or know someone else who’d be interested and need more info? Call Ed Wrazidlo at (218) 733-2033 (office) or (218) 464-3710 (cell), or e-mail him at e.wrazidlo@lsc.edu.

Career talk

Careers in science, technology, engineering and math are needed for the U.S. to remain competitive in the global marketplace. But many college students fail or become bored with such courses, studies say.

Hear about this and the differences in educational systems across the world from Jim Riehl, dean of the Swenson College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth, at a Royal D. Alworth Jr. International Lecture at 7 p.m. today in the UMD Library fourth-floor rotunda.

The lecture, “A World View of STEM in Higher Education,” will describe Riehl’s study of 10 countries and include the impacts of national demographics, faculty attitudes and parental pressure on student career choice.

TXT SPD

People now can send anonymous tips to the Superior Police Department using iPhone and Android apps.

Community members with Android phones can visit the Google Play Store from their phones and search for “SPDTip.” iPhone users are encouraged to visit the Apple App Store from their phones and search for “SPDTip.”

This program works along with the department’s existing text-messaging service known as “tip411,” which is provided by a St. Paul-based company named Citizen Observer. With “tip411” the community has been able to make anonymous tips to the police by texting the word “SPDTIP,” followed by the tip, to the number 847411 (TIP411).

The department’s land-line-based tip line, (715) 395-7468, is available, too. All tips are received anonymously, but the number isn’t monitored 24/7, so emergencies should be reported to 911.