ROBO-VICTORS — Members of the Robospartans pose with their trophies after last week’s robotics competition at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Marcy. Front row, from left: Ryan Payne, Kevin Valete and Gwyneth LaMarche; back row: Daniel Michaels, Douglas Hotvedt, Oscar Klempay, Matthew Strachen and Timothy Ha. (Photo submitted)

Robospartans power through regional robotics championship

Published Jan 24, 2016 at 9:00am

The RoboSpartans FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team were victorious, winning top prizes from SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Excelsior Region Championship on Sunday,
Jan. 17.

The team captained the Winning Alliance in the “FIRST Res-Q” challenge and won the top honor of the Inspire Award along with the Promote Award.

The Inspire Award is given to the team that embodies the “challenge” of the FTC Program, and the winner is an inspiration to other teams, acting with “gracious professionalism” both on and off the playing field.

The Promote Award required the team to produce a 60 second promotional video using the theme “Now that I have succeeded in FIRST…” The RoboSpartans, with their robot, Laconicus, named after the last Spartan King, were seeded fourth at the end of five qualifying matches.

In a gutsy move, they declined an invitation to ally with the second seeded team for the finals and moved on to choose their own alliance that included a Rome team, Geared Up, and a Corning team, Gorillabots.

The sixth-season RoboSpartans caught the judge’s attention with their global and local outreach and technological savvy. Sunday’s finish earned  the RoboSpartans a spot at the East Super Regional Championship at the University of Scranton, March 18-20.

The East Super Regional features the top 72 teams from Virginia to Maine, with winners moving on to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis in April. 

FTC teams compete in paired alliances in qualification matches followed by top ranking team finals.

Trophies are award for robot performance as well as engineering, use of sensors, motivation and outreach.

The recent growth of teams has helped spark interest by school districts to get involved in robotics and support teams. FIRST® - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, offers a series of robotics programs reaching students ages 6 through 18.

FIRST Tech Challenge, their fastest growing program, offers junior high to high school students an opportunity to experience hands-on engineering design, building, programming and competition with peers at a reasonable entry cost.

Locally, over a dozen engineers affiliated with the Mohawk Valley Engineers’ Executive Council along with instructors from area colleges have contributed to the success of FTC by offering time as volunteers for local events.

“It’s great to have the community recognize the importance of high-school level robotics competition as a follow-up to FIRST LEGO League,” said Lisa Payne, RoboSpartans Team Manager.  

“We’ve come so far from being the only team in the area just a short time ago to having a SUNY Poly Championship with a great showing by so many area teams. The potential for local students to head to college with FIRST scholarships is amazing,” Payne added.

FIRST® - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, offers $20 million in college scholarships annually to students in their high school level programs.

The basement-based RoboSpartans team consists of members from New Hartford and Utica and includes:

• Timothy Ha,

• Douglas Hotvedt,

• Oscar Klempay,

• Gwyneth LaMarche,

• Daniel Michaels,

• Ryan Payne,

• Matthew Strachen; and

• Kevin Vedete.

The team is coached by Bob and Lisa Payne of New Hartford, and the squad is supported by generous team families and business sponsors.