Manchester Machine Makers Win First Place for the Think Award

On March 13, 2021. the Manchester Machine Makers robotics team was recognized with First Place for the Think Award at the Vermont State Championships for FIRST Tech Challenge.     About 30 teams competed at the event, coming from across Vermont, and from several states beyond (teams list:  Vermont FTC Registration | The University of Vermont (

The Think Award is one of seven judged awards that were presented at the event, and primarily focuses on the team’s use of math and science to drive its engineering design process (I’m including a complete description of the award below).   Math and science-driven design is a strong suit for our team — at last year’s Vermont State Championship (the team’s rookie year), we were recognized with second place for the same award.

This year’s team members are Charlotte Ruley and Taylor Jarvis (both 11th grade at BBA), Isaac Vernon (9th grade at BBA), Aleks Rutins (8th grade at The Dorset School), and Jason Giedja (7th grade at Long Trail School).  The team’s coaches this year are Mike Cole and Meg Ruley, and its mentors are Bob Ruley and Patty Rutins.

The team is a chartered 4-H Club by UVM Extension, and recruits team members in grades 7-12 from all schools in the Manchester area.  They are always open to having new members join the team.  Engineered is proud to sponsor the makers of tomorrow.

Here’s how you can help the Manchester Machine Makers:

FIRST Tech Challenge

Think Award 

Removing engineering obstacles through creative thinking. 

This judged award is given to the Team that best reflects the journey the Team took as they experienced the engineering design process during the build season. The engineering content within the portfolio is the key reference for Judges to help identify the most deserving Team. The Team’s engineering content must focus on the design and build stage of the Team’s Robot.

Additional detailed information that is helpful for the Judges would be in the team’s Engineering Notebook and would include descriptions of the underlying science and mathematics of the Robot design and game strategies, the designs, redesigns, successes, and opportunities for improvement. A Team is not a candidate for this award if their portfolio does not include engineering content.

Required criteria for the Think Award: 

  • Team shows respect and Gracious Professionalism® to everyone they meet at a FIRST Tech Challenge event.
  • Engineering portfolio must have engineering content. The engineering content could include entries describing examples of the underlying science, mathematics, and game strategies in a summary fashion.
  • The engineering portfolio must provide examples that show the Team has a clear understanding of the engineering design process including examples of lessons learned.
  • The portfolio should inspire the judges to want to see the detailed engineering content in the engineering notebook.
  • Portfolio format is less important but enables the judges to understand the team’s design maturity, organizational capabilities and overall team structure.
  • Portfolio could reference specific experiences and lessons learned but should capture the summary of the current status of the Team and their robot design.
  • Portfolio could also summarize experiences and lessons learned from outreach with concise tables of outcomes

Strongly suggested criteria for the Think Award: 

  • Teams should flag or provide a reference to 6 to 8 pages of the engineering notebook(s) to support the engineering content included in the engineering portfolio.
  • Engineering portfolio could summarize how the Team acquired new mentors or acquired new knowledge and expertise from their mentors.
  • Engineering portfolio could contain summary of overall Team plan.
  • Engineering portfolio could contain information about the plans to develop skills for Team members.