JAY — Last Friday morning, advisor Daniel Lemieux, assistant Rob Taylor and several members of the Spruce Mountain Area Robotic Team, (SMART), gave a presentation to the Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls Chamber of Commerce about the team and its plans for this year.

Lemieux said there are 40-50 members in the Lego League program. 42 high school students are involved with building robots for competitions. “SMART robotics is more than robots,” Lemieux stated.  

SMART is an extra-curricular activity for Spruce Mountain High School students. It is an opportunity for any interested students to participate in FIRST Robotic Competitions (FRC). The team members design, build, and program industrial quality robots that compete in challenging and entertaining tournaments.

Lemieux said students engage in activities that teach skills ranging from computers (Computer-Aided Design, programming, 3-D printing) to entrepreneurship (business management, leadership, accounting for a $20,000/year budget) to industrial safety (safe practices, first aid, OSHA requirements) to artistic design (costumes and wardrobe, web site development) to communications (marketing and social media development). The skills participants learn in SMART are essential for success in any college major or any career.

SMART also provides students with opportunities to do community service and engage members of our communities and schools in learning about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math.) Students are also provided the opportunity to travel to competitions and visit college campuses both in and out of the State of Maine. Participating students need to complete 30 hours of fundraising to travel to events with the team.

The 2015 season just concluded with the team’s participation in the New England Regional FRC competition at Worcester Polytechnical Institute. SMART is now planning and preparing for the 2016 season.

SMART was founded in 2011. Since then, its teams have competed against schools that have much more experience and larger student bodies. SMART has competed throughout New England and has won several awards including the Engineering Inspiration Award, the Industrial Safety Award and the Excellence in Engineering Award.

Lemieux said SMART has an annual budget of $30,000. One third of that comes from the school department, one third from sponsors and one third from annual fundraising efforts. 

All graduates from the program are going to college. They are pursuing computer, STEM or service careers and doing very well, Lemieux said.

Lemieux also spoke of the sponsor internships his team members participated in last year. Students learned about welding at Howie’s Welding, did an inspection with Tedd Berry, and toured the New England US Cellular site in Augusta. Some learned the retail aspect of the business at the local US Cellular office.

“Team members are being given job opportunities – while in school or after,” Lemieux said.

This year, Lemieux plans to take his team to the national competition in St. Louis, Missouri. His team has been invited several times, but plans to attend once every four years. The airfare is $700 per student.

“We will be fundraising to offset those costs. Some students can’t afford it,” Lemieux said.

SMART is building an award winning team and getting out into the community. Lemieux said he is trying to show that what the kids do is related to what others in the community do.

Several students gave up part of a day off from school to attend the Chamber meeting and share their roles on the team.

Amber Delaney is co-captain of the build team that helps build the robot and controls the pit area.

Austin Gilboe is Safety Captain. He spoke of the no lift policy implemented by the team to reduce back injuries. Some of the robots weigh 120 pounds. 95 percent of the team is First Aid trained. Members also go through safety testing.

Austin Greeley is the driver. His job is to drive the robot during matches at the competitions.

Camryn Berry is Spirit Captain. Her team creates the brand for the team. T-Shirts and tutus have been designed for the team. “Everyone knows who we are by our colors. We make it a fun atmosphere,” she said.

Berry is also part of the Chairman’s Award team. This award embodies the team that gets engineering into their community. SMART is working to win the award this year.

Shane Riley is the Programming Captain. He helps program the robot and oversees the drive systems.

Gunner Higgins helps with the build team. He was one of the key presenters on the 2015 Chairman Award video.

Bailey Morrill takes pictures and videos. His job is to be as loud as possible during the cheers. Bailey is one of the loudest Spirit team members.

Kaylin Beck is part of the Chairman Award team. She is also a team photographer and videographer.

Lemieux said the robot driver and the build captains have 42 other team members to be aware of. Each has to have a task to do. Last year, a game board was printed on a 3-Dimensional printer to help determine what the robot will do during a match.

Taylor said, “The build team often faces on the fly problem solving.” A problem with the wheels arose last year. Shane Riley was able to build a new program in three hours to fix it.

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