U.S. Sen. Angus King lent a hand to the Falmouth-Gorham robotics team during observance of National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 3 at ODAT Machine in the Gorham Industrial Park.

King attached a camera-mount device designed by ODAT Machine on FalGor, the robot that robotic students from Gorham and Falmouth created for competition.

The robotic team, Northern Force Team 172, demonstrated what the battery-powered FalGor can do – launch and retrieve a large, beach-like ball. After affixing the part on FalGor, King manned the robot’s controls and sent the ball airborne.

“An amazing piece of technology,” King said.

Senior Jacob Sturgis of Gorham High School, along with Falmouth seniors Peter Neff, Cameron Wilkins and John Alling, represented their schools’ joint 57-member robotics team at last week’s event. FalGor was “custom-designed and built by our team,” Alling said.

The Famouth-Gorham robotics team travels to New Hampshire on Saturday, Oct. 25, for regional robotics competition.

At ODAT, the team demonstrated its skill to more than 75 students and teachers from schools that included Gorham, Westbrook, Falmouth and Cumberland, along with several manufacturing representatives who attended the event. King told the gathering about the importance of manufacturing in Maine’s future and encouraged students to pursue technology training.

King told the students there is a huge need for skill and they need training.

“I’m delighted you guys are here,” King said. “We’ve got to be able to make things.”

ODAT has been making things since it was founded by Richard Pratt in 1992. It services multiple industries that include aerospace, defense, semi-conductor and optics. Andrew Pratt, ODAT’s senior manufacturing engineer, told the turnout last week that his father began the company as a one-man shop and it has grown to 40 employees.

The company has just completed a 14,000-square-foot expansion.

While in Gorham Industrial Park, King also visited Jotul North America, which manufactures stoves. Bret Watson, president and CEO at the Gorham plant, led King on a tour of the facility. The company, whose parent company is based in Norway, recently announced it would manufacture in Gorham all stoves it sells in North America. It has been importing 9,000 wood stoves from its plant in Norway.

Jøtul North America website reports it employs about 75 people and the company plans to add several more in upcoming months.

Lisa G. Martin, executive director of the Manufacturers Association of Maine, said 1,800 manufacturing companies provide more than 50,000 jobs in Maine.

“Today, many of these jobs are high-tech, high paying careers,” Martin said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, during a visit last week to ODAT Machine in Gorham attaches, with assistance of Falmouth High School senior John Alling, a part on FalGor, the robot built by a students’ robotics team at Falmouth and Gorham high schools. King’s visit was in connection with National Manufacturing Day.  

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