FARMINGTON- Mt. Blue High School’s Robotics Team, known as the Blue Crew, officially began their build season January 7. The team is a part of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’s (FIRST) Robotics Competition. FIRST prides itself on offering a combination of sport, science and technology. According to their website, 92% of students involved with FIRST Robotics Competitions express interest in college, with over $80 million in scholarships being handed out.
The Blue Crew comes off of an incredible 2022 season. The team won the Chairman’s Award, which is the most prestigious award a FIRST Robotics Competition team can win. The team also qualified for the New England District Championships and was awarded a blue banner. To further add onto the accolades, the group won the Engineering Inspiration Award. FIRST’s website notes that it gives this award to a team that demonstrates “outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school or organization and community.” At New Englands, Mt. Blue’s team also collected the Gracious Professionalism Award, which is given to the team who demonstrates high-quality work and respects both individuals and the community. Blue Crew wrapped up their 2022 season with an invitation to the World Championships in Houston, Texas, however was unable to attend due to funding and the short notice.
Blue Crew’s team captain, Emily Hammond, looks to build on last year’s momentum. The season last year melded the team together into a family, making Hammond incredibly grateful for her teammates and the many hours spent together. The 2023 season looks just as promising, with the team nearly doubling in size.
Hammond’s competitive goals are to attend the World Championships, however she noted, “Even if we don’t make it that far, I’m happy just to have the opportunity to attend competitions with my team.”
The process to build and compete with robots is both grueling and complex. The January 7 announcement of the build season kicks off a six week stink of designing, building, programming and testing a robot, all from scratch. The team is unable to begin prior to the build date, as FIRST does not unveil the design specifications up until that time to ensure all teams have the same amount of time to work on the robot.
Once the robot is unveiled, Blue Crew spends seven days a week working on the robot and preparing for competition season. Hammond broke down the initial steps, saying “Right after the kickoff live stream ends, we get to work dissecting the game elements and points and strategizing what we want our robot to accomplish. Then we prototype a variety of mechanisms, test them, and assemble our robot.”
The time allotted to the process is astounding, with the team logging over 2000 hours throughout the season, all outside of school hours. Yet the time dedicated to it is worth it, as Hammond pointed out “build season is rigorous and time-consuming, but the joy of watching something that you worked hard to build function is like no other feeling.”
Competition season for Blue Crew kicks off at the Bridgewater District Event March 3 – 5, followed by another district event at the University of New Hampshire from March 24 – 26. If the squad performs well during these events, they will qualify for New England District Championships from April 5 – 8 in Springfield, Massachusetts. The World Championships will be in Houston, Texas from April 19 – 22.