HAMPDEN, Maine (News Center)-- It was a battle of machines in Hampden today. Hampden Academy hosted the sixth annual Maine State VEX Championship where thirty teams pitted their robots against each other in a competition of agility and coordination.
The clock is set. The sparks fly. And the pressure is definitely on.
"We have had three qualifying events up to this point and we have fifty six teams in the state and thirty of them qualified to compete here today," says Jamee Luce, Director of the Robotics Institute of Maine.
It all comes down to this- the Maine State Vex Championship. Students have been preparing for this day since September, working in teams to build robots. Each team has to make one robot under the requirements of Vex Robotics, the material supplier and company holding the competition. Building a robot is a challenge in itself. But getting it to work correctly is a whole other feat.
"You have to take it apart and fix different problems that you're seeing, put it back together, and then take it apart again. That's pretty much what happens throughout the year," says Muriel Adams, a Junior at North Yarmouth Academy.
In each round of the competition, teams use remote controls to make their robots move, lift and move different sized balls around the arena in order to score points, which is not as easy as it sounds.
"Well the robot needs to be stable, which is one of the biggest things, with an arm that lifts up to score in the goal. Because the goal is twenty four inches and the robot can only be eighteen inches tall to start, you have to have an arm that can move," Adams says.
On top of calculating the ins and outs of building the robot, competitors also have to take technical difficulties into account.
Adams says, "Our battery seems to be dying pretty quickly."
"We were running into a problem where I could not lift it high enough," says Brady Lynes, a Sophomore at Westbrook High School.
But that doesn't stop them. Last year there were more than fifteen hundred job openings for engineers in Maine. Event officials from the Robotics Institute of Maine hope programs like this will inspire young people to pursue engineering as a career path. But for now, these students are focusing on the fun, and the sweet taste of victory.