Blue Crew 6153 is pictured after winning the Chairman’s Award at the New England Pine Tree District Event earlier this month. The team includes students and mentors from Mt. Blue High School, Spruce Mountain High School and Maine School of Science and Mathematics. Submitted photo

FARMINGTON — Blue Crew 6153 won the Chairman’s Award at the New England Pine Tree District Event held at Thomas College in Waterville March 11-13.

The competition was part of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. The game this year is Rapid React which explores the future of transportation. Teams build a robot and program it to carry out specific tasks related to the game theme.

Spectators weren’t allowed at the Pine Tree Event. Everyone at the event had to wear masks at all times. Instead of the 40 teams usually competing there were 26 teams. Teams were also limited to 25 – members and mentors combined.

The robot Blue Crew 6153 built is named Whiplash.

“We designed our robot, Whiplash, to have the capabilities to accomplish every aspect of the game,” member Emily Hammond wrote in a recent email. “We can shoot into both the high and low hub, travel around every part of the field, and soon climb to the traversal rung. We wanted to be able to work any strategy with the other teams on our alliance, making us a more effective alliance partner.”

Blue Crew 6153 is seen in the hangers with its alliance partners during the NE Pine Tree District Event held earlier this month in Waterville. The team includes students from schools in Farmington, Jay and Limestone. Submitted photo

When asked how previous FRC competitions helped Blue Crew 6153 prepare Hammond noted, “We reviewed robots from other years that had similar functions of what we wanted our robot to be able to do. Since our team consists of very few members who have attended a real event before, reviewing other competitions and scouting robots from live streams was helpful for them to be able to understand the game and develop an understanding of the strategy that goes along with competing.”


The recent event was the first the team has been able to attend following COVID-19 and the first event since inviting former SMART Robotics members and mentors to join the team, Hammond wrote.

“It was a huge success for our team, and everyone had a great time,” she noted. “Our Safety Captains, Finnegan Zimmerschied and Ben Hatch won the Safety All-Star award on both days of the event. In playoffs, our team was the alliance captain of the 8th seed alliance.

“This was the first time that our team was an alliance captain for an in-season event,” Hammond continued. “It was thrilling to stand out on the field knowing I was the first in our team’s history to do so. One of our mentors, Joel Pike, was awarded the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award for his impact on FIRST robotics in Maine.”

Blue Crew 6153 mentor Joel Pike winning the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award at the NE Pine Tree District Event held earlier this month in Waterville. Photo courtesy of Kevin Murphy

FRC teams write an essay and give a presentation that can include a video for Chairman’s Award consideration.

“The presentation was performed by Ava Coates, Lily Bailey, and myself,” Hammond noted. “Kyran Katzenbach created our Chairman’s video.”

According to the FIRST website, “The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST.”


“Not such a long time ago in a town not so far away, a FIRST Alliance was formed to share the vision of FIRST across the land,” was read during the award presentation. “They expanded their Alliance by adding members from a struggling but very SMART team from a school nearby as well as mentoring and supporting multiple FIRST LEGO League teams in their region. When they are at LEGO robotics competitions, community events and festivals their robot mascot is never far behind.”

“I was overcome with emotion when they called our team name,” Hammond wrote. “It felt so surreal. It was a dream come true. I had said that before graduation, I wanted to get a blue banner, and now we have one.”

Pine Tree was an event of firsts for Blue Crew 6153.

“It was the first year we had school funding, the first time the majority of our members had attended an in-season event, the first time being an alliance captain, the first time winning the Chairman’s Award, and the first time, since Rookie year, that we have qualified for the New England District Event,” Hammond noted.

Blue Crew 6153 is based on the Mt. Blue Campus. The team is a collaboration among 12 students from Mt. Blue High School, five from Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, and one from Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone.

Mt. Blue team members not listed above include Jack Cramer, Nathan Hall, Noah Civiello, Noah Brougham, Benjamin “Kaleb” Daku, Jacob White, Kodi Quimby and Landen Rackliffe. Members Lily Bailey, Ava Coates, Quin Fournier, Owen Schwab, and Daniel Wilson are from Spruce Mountain while Chandler Pike of Jay attends Maine School of Science and Mathematics.


Richard Wilde is the team advisor. Mentors include Joel Pike, former SMART mentor Rob Taylor, and Cam Hammond.

Team sponsors are Central Maine Power, Pratt and Whitney, Raytheon Technologies, Robotics Institute of Maine, Richard Wilde, Franklin Savings Bank, Rotary of Farmington, and Foster CTE Programs/Regional School Unit 9.

As winners of the Chairman’s Award, Blue Crew 6153 has qualified to compete at the New England District Championship April 13-16 in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The team will also be competing at the New Hampshire Pease/Seacoast Event March 31 to April 2 in Durham, New Hampshire.

“This team is my pride and joy,” Hammond wrote. “To see it succeed means the world to me.”

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