RoboSpartans recognized at Robotics World Championship


Front L-R:  Timothy Ha, Ryan Payne, Laconicus (the team’s robot) & Douglas Hotvedt. Back L-R: Oscar Klempay, Matthew Strachen, Daniel Michaels, Kevin Valete & Gwyneth LaMarche

Front L-R: Timothy Ha, Ryan Payne, Laconicus (the team’s robot) & Douglas Hotvedt.
Back L-R: Oscar Klempay, Matthew Strachen, Daniel Michaels, Kevin Valete & Gwyneth LaMarche

The RoboSpartans robotics team arrived home from the 2016 FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis, Mo., with finalist recognition in three top award categories.

The RoboSpartans were tapped as finalists in the second highest judged category, the Think Award, for documentation of their engineering and outreach journey and for the Connect Award based on their community involvement and commitment to growing FIRST in both the local student and engineering communities.

The team also placed second for their video promotion of FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology and this season’s theme, “Now that I’ve succeeded in FIRST…”.

Their 60-second trailer is available on the RoboSpartans Youtube Channel.

The RoboSpartans participated at Historic Union Station as part of 128 teams from 17 countries. Only 2.6 percent of the over 5,000 teams participating in this season’s challenge were invited to St. Louis. Of the World Championship participants, only 25 percent were considered for awards. The four-day competition included a closed-door judging interview, nine qualifying matches, multiple on-the-spot judge interviews between matches, conferences, opportunities to meet with college representatives at FIRST Scholarship Row and sponsors at the FIRST Innovation Faire.

Robot matches were streamed and followed internationally online.

The RoboSpartans and their coaches had an extremely busy week in St. Louis. While the team competed in robot matches and fielded judge’s questions, coaches Bob and Lisa Payne participated in a meeting with FIRST Founder, Dean Kamen, and Founder, Jon Schull. Along with two international FIRST representatives, they discussed exploring a formal collaboration mechanism between ENABLE and FIRST teams.

The RoboSpartans’ coaches shared information on the team’s pilot collaborative project that brought 20 FIRST teams and two SUNY Polytechnic Institute classes together to 3D print prosthetic hands for those in need in the developing countries. Team coaches also led a FIRST Conference titled “Networking and Collaboration:  Kicking Up FTC Culture.” Team coaches and attendees shared ideas on promoting peer-to-peer learning, open engineering and improving communications between teams.

At the same time, RoboSpartans team members were honored at their pit by FIRST sponsor, FedEx.  The team received a drone and virtual reality viewer goggles for their continued participation in and promotion of the FedEx Innovation Challenge.

Each year, FIRST Tech Challenge teams design and build a new 18”x18” aluminum frame robot from a combination of kit parts, 3D printed parts and raw materials.  In addition to building and competing, the RoboSpartans team logged 1,300 hours of community outreach this season, assisting their fellow teams, demonstrating their robot, promoting FIRST, and encouraging engineers to get involved in assisting local students in the sport.   In addition, the RoboSpartans continue to grow the FTC TEC Network, a Google Community dedicated to promoting peer-to-peer learning and robotics collaboration.  The Network currently hosts over 165 members from 35 States and 8 countries.

FIRST Tech Challenge is a part of a series of robotics programs run by parent organization, FIRST® – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.  FIRST programs offer competitive robotics competitions for students age 6 through 18.  FTC provides high school-level robotics in a highly competitive, action-packed format with paired alliances on a 12-foot by 12-foot field.   The new 2016-2017 season will be announced at the annual Kick-off in early September with an event hosted at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Excelsior Region FTC Partner.

The FTC World Championship marked the end of the RoboSpartans’ 6th and final season in FIRST Tech Challenge robotics, but not the end of their involvement in FIRST.  The majority of team members plan on continuing as FIRST volunteers or will consider joining other area FIRST teams.

RoboSpartans Robotics will remain an independent STEM club in Central New York.  They are currently exploring the establishment of drone racing to link high school students, college students and adults through a new challenging technical sport. The group operates through the generosity of their fiscal agent and supporter, the Griffiss Institute and with the assistance of engineers through the Mohawk Valley Engineers Executive Council.

The RoboSpartans are happy to share their experience in FIRST, information on ENABLE prosthetics and drone racing in Central New York.  For more information, email Lisa & Bob Payne at

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