From left: LA Senior Ryan Naylor, senior Owen Dyer, and freshman Joseph Levesque at the Robotics State Tournament. All three are members of the Lincoln Academy 8030A Robotics Team that placed second in Maine and qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championships in Dallas, Texas in June. Photo by Izzy Petersen ’23.

On Saturday, March 5 two robots on the Lincoln Academy robotics team competed in the Maine State VEX Robotics Championship Tournament at The Point Community Center in South Portland. One of those robots, LA Robot 8030A, built and programmed by Owen Dyer, Ryan Naylor, Ryan Sullivan, Jake Shaw, Jackson Ross, Joseph Levesque, and CJ Colomb, was a tournament finalist and placed second in the State.

This second-place finish earned the team an invitation to the World VEX Robotics Tournament, which takes place May 5 – 7, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.

LA senior Owen Dyer, captain and primary builder of robot 8030A, said that robotics is a great way to apply engineering skills in a real-world environment. “The aspect of having to engineer something with constraints of size and budget makes this different from something like CAD [Computer Aided Design] where everything can be perfect and theoretical,” said Dyer. “You plan out everything on the robot, but it doesn’t always work out the way you plan it. I put a huge lift mechanism in so we could pick up the goals and stack them, but this proved to be very difficult, so we ended up using our lift to prevent other people’s robots from picking up the goals, and that worked better.” That ability to adapt on the fly is what makes robotics so engaging for Dyer.

The state robotics tournament had three parts: the qualifying round, the elimination round, and the final round. At the end of the qualifying round, the LA team was ranked seventh out of 40 teams, and advanced to the elimination round. In the elimination round, teams continue to advance until they lose a match.

“We won our match in the round of 16, and in the quarterfinal round we beat the second-seed team with a score of 86 to 60 and advanced to the semi-finals,” said LA math teacher and Robotic coach Susan Levesque. “Our semi-final match was a blowout–we beat our opponent with a score of 171 to 78 and advanced to the final round.”

In round two of the finals, said Levesque, “our team successfully drove two robots carrying three goals up onto the platform, and balanced the platform! The announcers said balancing two robots and three goals had not been done before in the competition. Our opponents cheered us and the crowd went wild when we accomplished this feat.”

LA won round two with a score of 180 to 167.

The third and final round was a tiebreaker between LA and their alliance partner, Thornton Academy, who faced the alliance of Cape Elizabeth and MSSN (Maine School for Science and Math). “One of our opponent’s robots had an issue so they used their three-minute time out to try to fix their robot,” said Levesque. “However, they didn’t fix it during their time out, so in an extraordinary act of sportsmanship, our team gave their opponents their time out to fix their robot. Words cannot describe how proud I was of them!”

In the end the Cape Elizabeth/MSSM team fixed their robot, and defeated LA in the final round by a score of 188 to 180, leaving LA only eight points from a state title. This second place finish qualifies the team for the World Championships, where the team hopes to travel in May to compete against some of the best high school robots in the world.

“I am beyond thrilled with their sportsmanship and performance,” said Levesque. “This was the first time LA robotics participated in the State Championship, and we placed second in the entire state of Maine and earned an invitation to the World VEX Robotics Tournament!”