ROBOSPARTANS IN ACTION — The local RoboSpartans student robotics team competed last weekend at the 2015 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis. From left: Timothy Ha, Utica; Aidan Uvanni, Deerfield; and Gwyneth LaMarche, Ryan Payne, Daniel Michaels, and Douglas Hotvedt, New Hartford. (Photo submitted)

RoboSpartans robotics team garner award in St. Louis championships

Published May 3, 2015 at 9:00am

The local RoboSpartans robotics team received an Inspire Award Finalist trophy last week at the 2015 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis.

The Inspire Award is the highest honor in FIRST Tech Challenge robotics, given to teams that embody the challenge of the program, said RoboSpartans coaches Bob and Lisa Payne.

Four Inspire Award Finalists were chosen, each receiving trophies at a ceremony Saturday, they said.

In addition, the team was a finalist for the Connect Award, based on community involvement and commitment to helping FIRST grow in both the local student and engineering communities.

Also, team member Ryan Payne participated as one of 100 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) finalists for the Dean’s List Award.

The RoboSpartans were the only area FTC team to receive top nods at the world championship level, according to the announcement. The team, run as an independent after-school program, is comprised of students from New Hartford and Whitesboro high schools, JFK Middle School in Utica, and home-schooled students. The 2014-15 team includes Douglas Hotvedt, Gwyneth LaMarche, Daniel Michaels and Ryan Payne of New Hartford, Aidan Uvanni of Deerfield, and Timothy Ha of Utica.

The FIRST championship event in St. Louis was separate from the VEX Robotics World Championships in Louisville, Ky., earlier in April, which included a Rome Free Academy robotics team. Both programs are considered among the most well-known robotics competitions, according to several online reports.

The RoboSpartans participated in St. Louis among 128 teams from 11 countries. Bob Payne said “only 2.3 percent of the 4,500 teams participating in this season’s challenge were invited to St. Louis. To be at the top of that small group of excellent teams from around the world is a huge achievement....”

The team competed for awards ranging from team motivation to robot design and performance. Each year, the RoboSpartans design and build a new 18-by-18-inch aluminum frame robot from a combination of kit parts, 3D printed parts and raw materials.

The FIRST programs offer competitive robotics competitions for students ages 6 through 18. The FIRST Tech Challenge provides high school-level robotics in a competitive, lively format on a 12-by-12-foot field, the announcement said.

The RoboSpartans team operates through the help of its fiscal agent and supporter, the Mohawk Valley Applied Technology Corporation of Utica, and with the assistance of engineers through the Mohawk Valley Engineers Executive Council.

The team encourages students and parents with an interest in the field to visit a robotics event at Solvay High School on Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. to meet area teams. The event is free.