The Midcoast MAINEiacs Robotics Team, based out of Searsport District High School, reached new heights competing in the most recent FIRST® Robotics Competition season, advancing to the finals for the first time at the University of New Hampshire District Event.

Also at the UNH event, the team was recognized with the prestigious Gracious Professionalism Award, which commends teams that go above and beyond to support others.

The MAINEiacs were also recognized at the Pine Tree District Event in Lewiston with the Judges Award for their collective work in transforming team culture and having the entrepreneurial spirit to raise $16,000 in one year. The MAINEiacs finished the season ranked 83rd out of 209 teams in the New England District, and 9th out of 26 teams in the state of Maine.

Every year, participation in the FIRST competition requires teams to design and build industrial-sized robots to navigate and manipulate elements on a basketball court-sized field.

This year’s robotics game theme was “Power Up,” where alliances of three teams had to imagine that they were trapped in a retro video game. To work their way out, they had to pick up and move milk crate-sized “power cubes” to various parts of the field to score points and gain advantage for their side.

Alliances earned points by having more power cubes placed onto a scale in the middle of the field, and switches on both ends of the field, to establish ownership. Teams could also place cubes into a vault, which allowed them to play various “power ups” to gain a temporary advantage on the field.

At the end of a match, teams could then attempt to climb onto a rung onto the center of the field to face the boss and win the game.

To complete these challenges, the MAINEiacs designed and built a robot, nicknamed “PEA-ter” (for Pneumatic Extension Arm), that used pneumatic pistons that opened and closed a “hand” that could grip and release power cubes.

The hand was attached to a mechanical “arm” that could raise and lower as needed to move cubes into place. The arm also had pneumatic pistons that allowed the arm to extend an additional 2 feet, high enough for hooks on the hand to come down onto the climbing rung field element and pull the robot off the ground.

Over the course of their two district events, the MAINEiacs earned two important awards. At the Pine Tree District Event in Lewiston, out of a competitive field of 38 teams, the team was given the Judges Award, recognizing the team’s extensive efforts to transform team culture, integrate with the younger FIRST® LEGO® League team, and work together to raise over $16,000 in one year.

At the UNH District Event, the MAINEiacs demonstrated outstanding Gracious Professionalism, supporting a rookie team newly arrived at the event to prepare their robot for inspection and competition game-play. Throughout the competition, members of the MAINEiacs helped troubleshoot and rebuild the other team’s robot, cheering them on as they participated in their first-ever competition.

To celebrate their exciting 2018 FRC season, the MAINEiacs invite the public to their annual open house Thursday, April 26, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Searsport District High School cafeteria. Team members will demonstrate their robot, and there will also be a Chili Cook-Off, giveaways, and two special announcements. Tickets for the Chili Cook-Off can be purchased ahead of time from a team member for $5 or three for $10, or at the door for $5 each.

For more information about the team or the upcoming Open House and Chili Cook-off, please contact Geoff Cyr, lead mentor, at