Blue Crew FRC team 6153 was an alliance captain at the New England Regional Championship last month in Springfield, Massachusetts. Pictured left to right are Team 3146 Granby Grunts, Team 6153 Blue Crew, Team 1073 The Force Team. Photo courtesy of Kevin Murphy

REGION — Blue Crew FIRST Robotics Competition team 6153 has added more awards and accomplishments to its resume after competing at two more New England events.

FRC is a program for high school students focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematic skills. Teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” and develop teamwork skills while building and programming industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.

The 2022 game is Rapid React with transportation as the theme. It is focused on airports and airplanes.

This year Blue Crew is a combination of students from Foster Career and Technical Education Center and Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, and Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. Chandler Pike, a student at the latter lives in Jay and his father, Joel Pike, is a mentor for the team.

Spruce hasn’t had a team since the retirement of advisor Daniel Lemieux in 2020.

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


Blue Crew then competed at the New England District Pease Event March 31-April 2 in Durham, New Hampshire. The team won the Engineering Inspiration Award there, the second highest award possible in FRC. The team wasn’t eligible for the Chairman’s Award since a team may only win it once in regional competitions.

The two awards qualified Blue Crew to compete at the New England District Championship April 13-16 in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

“We finished eighth in the qualification matches for the Titanium Division and were the captain of the sixth seed alliance during playoffs,” team member Emily Hammond from Foster CTE Center wrote in a recent email.

“Along with our alliance partners 1073 The Force Team from Hollis, NH, and 3146 the Granby Grunts from Granby, CT, we competed in four grueling quarterfinal matches, including two tiebreakers (the second was a replay due to a field fault), against the third seed alliance. It was very intense, but with the quick relationships that we formed with our alliance partners and the encouragement of our cheering squad, we persisted. Our alliance emerged victorious and proceeded to the semifinals. In our second semifinal match we lost to the second seed alliance by a single point.

“It was rewarding to see the robot that we worked so hard on succeed,” Hammond wrote. “In the end, the Blue Crew finished 25th out of 182 teams in New England.”

Due to the efforts of safety co-captain Ben Hatch, Blue Crew won its fifth safety All-Star Award of the year, she noted. “During the Titanium Division awards, the Blue Crew won the Gracious Professionalism Award,” Hammond wrote.


That award celebrates working together on and off the playing field, a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community, according to the FIRST website.

“Our success at this event qualified our team for the World Championship in Houston, TX,” Hammond noted. “Our team hasn’t qualified for this event since its rookie year in 2016, and this is the first year we have qualified with our robot. Unfortunately, due to a lack of the significant funding needed and a quick three-day turnaround between New Englands and Worlds, we were unable to attend.

“We hope to raise enough money in the coming year to compete on the world stage in 2023,” she continued. “What has been so special about this season is that every member of the team has put in a significant effort that led to our world qualification. The hard work of our Chairman’s and Business groups brought us to the New England Championship, and our robot’s performance qualified us for Worlds.

“We have over 2,000 student hours logged for this season alone,” Hammond noted. “That kind of dedication is rarely seen anywhere else. Although the pandemic brought complications, our team has only grown and I predict it will continue to grow as we spread our team outside of Mt. Blue. I couldn’t have asked for better students to lead this year, or better mentors to support and teach us. This team has become my family, and I am so proud of all that we have accomplished.”

As a pit manager, Mt. Blue’s Noah Civiello wrote in an email his main job was to check the robot after matches to make sure that nothing had come loose or broken, change the battery, and sometimes do other things to prepare for the next match like grease the gears or fix and replace broken pieces of the robot.

“One thing that I like about robotics is that the skills that are being used to build this robot are skills that can be used in jobs later on, but they are being taught on hand instead of in a classroom, and the product is used in a fun competition,” he noted. “I am really happy that we qualified for worlds because this means that we are one of the top 400 teams in the world and it’s promising that next year’s competition will go well for us.”


“As programming captain it was my responsibility to work with the build team and the drive team to get the robot working as intended and to create a program that would the run the robot during the first 15 seconds of each match,” SMHS member Quin Fournier wrote in an email. “On the drive team I would control where the robot was aiming at during the match then I would control the arms that would allow the robot to climb up the bars.

“A couple of weeks ago we attended the New England District Championship and I cannot express how happy I was with our performance,” he noted. “We placed way higher than I was expecting.”

“At this event, my duties included speaking to the judges about the entrepreneurship plan and answering any questions about our sponsors,” SMHS member Lily Bailey wrote in an email. “The gracious professionalism award recognized our efforts in trying to promote STEM in our community and schools. Our team had an amazing season and we are very lucky to have been a part of it.”

The last event was bigger, more formal than prior ones, SMHS member Ava Coates said last Thursday night. “It was definitely fun seeing all the teams, the flags and banners decorating the seats,” she noted.

Scouting and choosing the teams to be on the alliance, giving the drive team advice was the most challenging for Coates. “There were a lot of good teams, a lot we didn’t know about,” she said. “Even though the teams we chose weren’t high-ranking, they were very skilled.

“It would have been a cool experience to go to Worlds,” Coates said. “Just knowing we made it and could have gone was pretty cool.”


“It was an amazing showing of combined teams from both Spruce Mountain and Mt. Blue,” Joel Pike said Thursday night. “I have been working with both of these teams in some fashion for 11 or 12 years, this is the first time either has been on the field for playoffs at New Englands.

“We were one of the teams that had an (automated external defibrillator) in the pit,” he noted. “A lot of the mentors were commenting that we should probably go get it because it was some of the most nail-biting endings I have ever been to.”

The team went in as the eighth seed, moved up to be the sixth alliance captain.

“The neat thing is they picked the 29th and 30th ranked teams, beat the third place alliance and almost beat the second place alliance which is really impressive,” Pike said. “We were among the highest level of competition there. It was an incredible event to watch.

“I am so excited for how well they did,” he added.

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