March 1, 2008, MANCHESTER, N.H. – Another winter snowstorm struck the Northeast this weekend, but that couldn’t stop thousands of students from competing in the finals of the 6th annual Granite State Regional FIRST Robotics competition held at the Verizon Wireless ArenaVerizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, February 28, 29 and March 1. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit organization which encourages students to pursue careers in science, math, and engineering. More than 1,500 teams from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, the U.K., and every state in the U.S. are participating in 41 regional competitions this year that culminate in an April championship.

The Granite State Regional, sponsored by BAE Systems, brings students and their mentors together in a two-day competition that emphasizes teamwork, innovation, and strategy. Forty-eight high school teams from six New England states participated in this year’s FIRST competition. Of those forty-eight, five teams were from Maine.

The teams received their challenge in January to design, develop, and build a robot using common parts. The robots are then competed in randomly selected alliances, performing a variety of tasks for points.

This year’s challenge – “FIRST Overdrive” – is played on a track with a fence dividing red and blue sides. The fence is intersected by an overpass representing the red and blue finish lines. Two three-team alliances race around the track in two-minute, thirty second rounds, scoring points by carrying or tossing balls with the robots they’ve created.

Befitting the theme of this year’s competition – “FIRST Overdrive” – Steve Gratton from the Lovering Family Foundation, encouraged the students to drive on the road the same way they drive robots. He said notwithstanding the advances in modern-day automotive technology, humans can be the weakest link in the car. “I didn’t see any of you text messaging on your cell phones while operating your robots. Focus, and turn your cell phones off when you’re on the road,” Gratton said.

The first day of competition ended with several teams receiving awards (Maine teams in bold).

The Outstanding Volunteer Award went to Randy Bohannan, a BAE Systems employee, who coaches and mentors for FIRST and FIRST Lego League teams.

Team #126 Clinton High School, Clinton, Mass., received the Delphi “Driving Tomorrow’s Technology” Award. The award recognizes an elegant and advantageous machine feature. The team’s hurdling arm was particularly effective in game play.

Team #190 Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, Worcester, Mass., received the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award for an innovative control system or application of control components to provide unique machine functions. The award recognized the team’s powered mechanical system to manipulate the ball.

The Imagery Award for attractiveness in engineering and visually aesthetic engineering integration from the machine to the team appearance went to Team #1289 Lawrence High School, Lawrence, Mass.

The Xerox Creativity Award went to Team #133 Bonny Eagle High School, Standish, Maine. The award celebrates creative design, use of a component, or a creative or unique strategy of play. The team used a center pivot design for their frame.


The Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers Entrepreneurship Award went to Team #509 Bedford High School, Bedford, N.H., The award honors a team that is unique, enthusiastic and well organized, and one whose well-honed business skills will keep them operating successfully for years to come. This rookie team of freshmen and sophomores assembled a team handbook that included a long-term strategy.

A Judges’ Award was presented to Team #121 Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Mount Hope, and North Kingstown High Schools, Newport County, Rhode Island, for going above and beyond their peers, posting their design online early in the build season and mentoring a rookie team.

Team #138 Souhegan High School, Amherst, received the Autodesk Visualization Award for student animation that illustrates the spirit of FIRST.

Team #2370 Rutland County Students, Rutland, Vt., received the Website Award which recognizes excellence in student-designed, built and managed FIRST team website.

Michael Matthews, Team #133 from Bonny Eagle High School, received the Dr. Woodie Flowers Award that honors outstanding contributions to the mission of FIRST.





The following teams received awards on the final day of the event (Maine teams in bold):

The 2008 Granite State FIRST Regional Robotics Champions are: Team #121, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Mount Hope, and North Kingstown High Schools, R.I.; Team #40 Trinity High School, Manchester, N.H.; and Team #134 Pembroke Academy, Pembroke, N.H.

The 2008 Granite State FIRST Regional Robotics Finalists are: Team #1512, St. Paul’s High School, Concord, N.H.,; Team #58 South Portland High School, Maine; and Team #1517 Bishop Brady High School, Concord, N.H.

Photo: Robots #58 from South Portland and 172 from Gorham/Falmouth in a match together:

The most prestigious award, the Regional Chairman’s Award, was presented to Team #126 Clinton High School, Clinton, Mass., for encouraging the best partnership effort among team participants and best exemplifying the true meaning of FIRST.

The Imagery award went to Team #1289 Lawrence High School for their attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration from the machine to the team appearance.

Team #172, Falmouth and Gorham High Schools, Mass., won the Chrysler Team Spirit Award, celebrating extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit through exceptional partnership and teamwork.



Team #58, South Portland, Maine, was selected as the winner of this year’s General Motors Industrial Design Award, celebrating the robot’s form and function to achieve the game’s challenge.

Photo: (the one carrying the blue ball)

Team #1058 Londonderry High School, N.H.; was selected as the winner of this year’s Motorola Quality Award, celebrating machine robustness in concept and fabrication.

Team #811, Bishop Guertin High School, Nashua, N.H.; was selected as the winner of this year’s Johnson & Johnson Sportsmanship Award, celebrating outstanding sportsmanship and gracious professionalism, both on and off the playing field.

Team #501, Manchester West High School, Manchester, was selected as the winner of this year’s Engineering Inspiration Award, celebrating a team’s success in inspiring others to respect science and technology.

Team #1512, St. Paul’s High School, Concord, N.H., was selected as the winner of a Judges’ Award for its outreach to a charitable organization that helped them improve their own design and implementation skills while solving a real world problem for those less fortunate.

Team #2648, Messalonskee High School, Oakland, Maine, was selected as the winner of a Rookie Inspiration Award for outstanding effort in community outreach and recruiting students toward careers in engineering.

The Rookie All-Star Award was presented to Team #2342, Greater Nashua Area High Schools, Merrimack, for their success in a unique design strategy.

Team #2370, Rutland County Students, Rutland, Vt., received the Highest Rookie Seed Award, celebrating the highest-seeded rookie team in the regional.

Team #1517, Bishop Brady High School, Concord, N.H., earned the Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety Award for their extraordinary practice of safety fundamentals, using innovative ways to eliminate or protect against hazards both on and off the playing field.

About BAE Systems

BAE Systems is the premier global defense and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 97,500 employees worldwide, BAE Systems’ sales exceeded $31.4 billion in 2007.

For further information, please contact Marianne Murphy, BAE Systems, at (603) 885-2812. For more information about FIRST Robotics Teams in Maine, visit

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