By Pam Harnden, Livermore Falls Advertiser
JAY — Local robotics competition participants learned Saturday via an international webcast that the 2018 theme is arcade games.
The announcement for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) provided background information and details about this year’s game, called FIRST Power Up.
Members of Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team 3930 (SMART) watched the webcast in the high school library.
FIRST founder Dean Kamen was seen as an arcade character before transitioning to human form.
“Use time wisely, take risks and learn from failures,” Kamen said.
He said innovation can be accelerated, but failures may occur. For every step back, take two steps forward.
FIRST teams are tasked with using robots in accessible, innovative ways. The program is aimed at building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“It’s never been about the robots,” Kamen said. “We are using robots to build kids.”
This year’s game is based on the FIRST values of gracious professionalism and cooperation. “Power cubes” will represent those values and others, including inspiration, empathy, teamwork and risk-taking.
In FIRST Power Up, two alliances of three teams will each find themselves trapped in an 8-bit video arcade game. Each alliance has three ways to defeat the boss: tip the scale or switch to earn points, exchange power cubes for various power-ups to gain temporary advantages or climb the scale wall to face the boss. The power-ups are force, boost and levitate.
More than 3,650 teams from 27 countries will compete in one or more of almost 160 events globally this year.
Copies of the 190-page manual were printed off after the webcast ended. Team members split into 13 categories and spent the afternoon brainstorming.
Brainstorming will continue Sunday when the team will also start constructing mock-ups of the playing field.
“Digesting the game is always really important,” coach Dan Lemieux said. “Having a robot that can deliver cubes fast and high will be crucial.”
Programming Co-Captain Orion Schwab said, “It’s going to be an aggressive game.”
Several awards are presented at each FRC event. SMART 3930 has several smaller teams which focuses on those awards or various aspects of the game.
The Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award, honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. Celia McDonald is captain.
The Creativity Award celebrates creativity in design, use of component or strategy of play. Tanna Herlihy is captain.
The Engineering Inspiration Award celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community. Co-captains are Hannah Coates and Madeline Labonte, with Jacob Foss assisting.
The Entrepreneurship Award recognizes a team which has developed a comprehensive business plan in order to define, manage, and achieve team objectives and displays business skills that ensure a self-sustaining program. Madison Lecowitch is captain.
Other teams and captains are: Spirit, Sydney Shaffer; Cheering, Thomas Hebert; Build, Tanna Herlihy and Hunter Quirrion; Programming, Orion Schwab and Alex Decker; Drive, Tanna Herlihy and Sydney Shaffer and Video, Rylee Delaney.
SMART 3930 will compete March 2-4 at the Granite State Event in Windham, New Hampshire, and March 22-24 at the Pine Tree Event in Lewiston.