JAY — The Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team took two prestigious awards at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) district competition in Worcester, Mass., last week.

The three-year-old team received what is considered second place, the Engineering Inspiration Award and the Industrial Safety Award. They competed with 40 high school robotics teams from throughout New England.

Student Sam Brenner was the captain of safety for the team and was assisted by freshman Adam Gilboe.

“It was the best feeling ever,” Gilboe said of receiving the safety award.

The team was meticulous in keeping their robot pit clean, and created a device that prevents having to lift the robot. They distributed their instructions to all teams at the competition.

“It was a lot of work and involved the whole team,” said Brenner. “We’re very obsessive about taking steps to be safe.”

Nearly all members of the 35-student team are trained in CPR and first aid, and all have been tested on safety measures. They also prepared safety kits that could be used for any type of emergency.

The Engineering Inspiration Award required an essay on how well robotics and engineering are promoted in the community, as well as a presentation and question and answer time with the judges. Among the presenters were students Shelby Bryant and Amia Pelletier.

Teacher and team coach Dan Lemieux said the scope of influence by the high school team extends into the community, RSU 73’s elementary schools, and into the middle school with its Lego League, Just Keep Swimming.

The team has also brought their robots and made presentations to other schools in the area, including Dirigo High School in Dixfield. They’ve also helped other schools establish their own robotics teams, worked with elementary school students to show the importance of science and math, and demonstrated their robot at various school functions, among many other things.

The Engineering Inspiration Award also recognizes the team that advances respect and appreciation for science and engineering. Nearly 90 percent of the Spruce Mountain robotics team plans to earn degrees in engineering or some other closely related field when they attend college.

The next step is to earn the Chairman’s Award, which is placing first in the promotion of science and engineering.

“This was really nice this year and a good experience. We’re a lot more prepared to go to Pine Tree,” said Dustin Jones.

The Pine Tree Regional competition takes place at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, April 3-5. Then it’s on to Boston for another competition April 10.

Even if the Spruce Mountain team qualifies for the World Festival in Missouri in late April, Lemieux said the team will most likely not attend because of the high cost of travel.

The dedication and devotion of the school’s 35 members shows through with their enthusiasm for building and programming robots, and perhaps most importantly, said student Adam Gettle, “it’s all about teamwork.”

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