The LA Robotics team at the Monmouth tournament on February 3, where LA robots earned both first and second place. From left: Connor Parson, Mica Houghton, Joseph Levesque, Tillman Seibel, Shayla Pheng, Trevor Hall, Noah Garnett, Zane Adams, and Amelia Starbird

Lincoln Academy robots brought home plenty of hardware from the last regular season meet at Monmouth Memorial School on Saturday, February 3. Robot 8030A took first place, Robot 8030C took second place, and 8030A also won the tournament Skills Champion Award.

The 8030A robot, designed, built, and programmed by Connor Parson, Mica Houghton, and Joseph Levesque, focused on the Skills portion of the competition. During the Skills competition, only one robot is on the field at a time. Robots have 60 seconds to maximize their score with the robot performing autonomously, and another 60 seconds where the driver controls the robot.

Team 8030A earned the highest Skills score at the Monmouth Tournament with a score of 94 autonomous points and 131 driver-controlled points, for a combined score of 225 points. This is currently the fourth-highest Skills score in the state of Maine, and places the 8030A team in the 82nd percentile in the world, according to LA Robotics coach and math teacher Susan Levesque.

VEX Robotics competitions have two rounds: the qualification round and the elimination round. In the qualification round at Monmouth, each LA team competed in eight matches. In this round teams are randomly assigned a new alliance partner for each match, and the partners work together to score as many points as possible. At the end of the qualification round, 8030A was ranked ninth out of 35 teams with six wins and two losses. 8030C was ranked 11th with five wins, two losses, and one tie. Robot 8030B had a rough day of competition. They were ranked 29th with two wins and six losses.

In one of the qualification rounds, the rookie team 8030C’s robot, which was designed, built, and programmed by Kieran Roopchand, Noah Garnett, Trevor Hall, Shayla Pheng, and Tillmann Seibel, was randomly paired with the top seed team, a group of seniors from York High School, and the two robots together were unstoppable. Offensively the alliance scored 113 points, and defensively they shut down their opponents, who only scored 14 points.

Tillman Seibel is a sophomore international student from Germany who is a member of the 8030C team. He was surprised that his team did so well at this tournament. “I honestly can’t explain it. Kiernan [Roopchand] has a lot of experience, and he worked closely with the A team to build our design. Part of the challenge involved having the robot do a pull up, and our system seemed to work pretty well–we got a lot of points that way.”

He added, “the fact that the school offers a robotics class is helpful, because Shayla [Pheng] and I learned to code in the class.”

In the elimination round, teams choose who they want as an alliance partner, and the top-seed team chose team 8030C. According to Levesque, “this is quite an accomplishment, given that the Monmouth Tournament was only their second time competing.”

The third-seed team chose 8030A as a partner. Both LA alliances sailed through the round of 16, quarterfinals, and semifinals, and then faced each other in the final round of competition. “When the final Eagle vs. Eagle round was scored, the 8030A alliance beat the 8030C alliance by only 5 points!” said Levesque. “It was an intense match to watch.”

“The trophy case in ATEC is filling up!” said Levesque. “Team 8030A brought home two more trophies, one for Skills Champion and the other for Tournament Champion.” This brings their total trophy count to four trophies for achievement plus a Good Sportsmanship award for this season alone.

Team 8030C’s second-place finish qualifies them for the State Tournament on March 9, meaning LA will send two robots to states this year, since 8030A qualified in December.

“Robotics is great,” said Tillman Seibel. “It’s so many different things at once. It’s about engineering and creative thinking. Also, you really get to build something; it’s not theoretical, you take metal, and you screw it together, and it really works! We work well as a team because everyone gets to take on different parts of the task, and each person does what they’re good at.”