Pictured: Team LRTC 8023 with their robot. From left to right: Ahmed Hussein, Omar Osman, Jacob Willette, and Chance Tuttle.
April 2nd – 10th is National Robotics Week, a time to focus attention on this interdisciplinary component of computer science. In Maine public schools, robotics comes to life in a variety of ways. From our high school students participating in robotic competitions down to the youngest elementary student programming robots to follow a sequence, robotics is a grassroots effort that we can see in many schools. This recognition, dating back to 2009, has a simple mission – “to inspire students in robotics and STEM-related fields and to share the excitement of robotics with audiences of all ages.”
This second installment highlights the underdog story of LRTC 8023 (Team 8023*) from Lewiston Regional Technology Center. The team formed in 2019 and only had one competition under their belt when FIRST suspended the season. At that first meet in Massachusetts, they walked away the Rookie Inspiration Award and many lessons learned from competing on the field.
After a year and half without in-person competitions, the team made their return to the carpet for the Pine Tree District’s FIRST Robotics Competition held at Thomas College in Waterville. The twenty-six teams were from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, many of them with long established programs and experienced mentors.
The team had been spending months getting their robot ready for their first competition of the 2022 season. They were, however, underdogs. They came out of the qualifying matches with a 3-6 record. They were brought into an Alliance with Orange Chaos (Team 4564) out of Brewer and Morpheus (Team 5813) out of New Hampshire going into the playoffs. After a spectacular final match with a close point count, LRTC came out victorious. It was a big lift for the young team mentored by LRTC Trade Works instructor Alan Graves and Lewiston High School Social Studies teacher Kathy County. As a result, they ranked 21 of 183 in New England district. LRTC 8023 was one of the fourteen Maine teams headed down to the NE District Pease ANG Event this past weekend, where the field was deep and the competition was fierce. They came in 32nd overall after a 5-7 record during qualifying and did not make the playoffs. “They worked hard, showed up and had what it took to show what a true underdog can do,” LRTC Student Services Support Kelsey Poliquin said. The town of Lewiston recognized the team’s accomplishments and proclaimed April 5th to be “Robotics Team Day” and invited the team to city hall to be formally recognized.
If you would like to follow LRTC 8023, check out their Facebook page or their Twitter feed. To learn more about opportunities for Robotics in Maine schools, check out Robotics Institute of Maine (RIM). For information about computer science in Maine schools, please check out the Maine Department of Education’s Computer Science page. If you have a robotics success story at your school, email email@example.com.
* team numbers are given in order of creation, so LRTC 8023 is the 8023rd team to become part of FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition).