kids TEACHING kids


2006 Annual Report




table of contents
TEAM 812
I. Team 812 History Students Mentors Demographics Accomplishments II. Impact on Students The Preuss School III. Preuss School UCSD Information Statistics IV. Construction Programming Shooter Ball Gathering Drive Train Electrical V. Financial Sponsors VI. Community Outreach Information Impact University of California Regents VII. FIRST Lego League FIRST Lego League FLL Competition VIII. Project RUBI UCSD Dynamic Learning Center Reach For Tomorrow IX. FIRST BUDDY VSD SAVY Reuben H. Fleet Science Center SEA San Diego Public Libraries Boys and Girls Clubs UCSD Sally Ride Festival Monarch School X. Team San Diego San Diego FIRST Expo San Diego FIRST Kick-Off San Diego FIRST Lock-In San Diego FIRST Scrimmage XI. FIRST STEPS MIT MITES UCSD SDSU UC COSMOS WPI GEMS Temple University PSTP John Hopkins CTY NASA NSBRI XII. Documents Executive Summary Chairman’s Submission XIII. Glossary of Acronyms XIV. Appendices



history 2002 - 2006 TEAM 812
Season: Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics, began in the fall at the Preuss School UCSD. Team 812 is the first FIRST team in San Diego. With the support and assistance of the University of California, San Diego, The Preuss Foundation, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Team 812 commenced upon its endeavor as a first year tem in the rigorous FIRST environment. As a beginning team, the team faced many challenges along their journey. Without the aid of a machine shop, the team had struggled to construct a robot adequate to withstand the 2002 FIRST Robotics Competition. Despite the adversaries the team had encountered during that six-week building season, Team 812 persevered. As a result, the team has built a great rookie robot, “Wah-hee-sah.” Though the final standings were low in the competition in the Southern California Regional in Los Angeles, Team 812 achieved recognition through the AllStar Rookie Award.

Competition 3 - Team 812 preparing for the Annual San Diego FLL Competition

From top: 1 - Team members at a family potluck event 2 - Team 812’s hosts the Annual San Diego FLL

Season: After being able to witness the power of FIRST first hand, Team 812 returned the following season in attempt to further spread the message of FIRST and recruit more teams in the San Diego community. The team had successfully bridged a partnership with San Diego Community College; through SDCC, they began to deliver presentations to local San



Diego high school administrators and educators. The team’s success was accredited by having three schools registering with FIRST. Team 812 began a mentorship program with teams 1079, 1125, and 1136. During this time, Team 812 continued to develop themselves as engineers and programmers. Mentors from the University of California, San Diego became a part of the Midnight Mechanics. The mentors attended the meetings regularly in order to teach students the knowledge and the fundamental engineering principles in which comprises FIRST. Meanwhile, as the mentors instill their knowledge, they are able to obtain fresh input and ideas from the students. At the Southern California Regional Competition, Team 812 received Daimler-Chrysler Team Spirit Award. In addition, at the Arizona Regional, the team was recognized through receiving the Judges Award.

The team had helped others begin their journeys as a part of FIRST. Team 812 taught the teams the fundamentals of engineering and was with them every step of the way. In partnership with Madison High School FIRST Robotics, an active member of TSD, Team 812 built a full size playing field. All members of TSD had access to the playing field in order to practice and prepare for the regional competition. The Midnight Mechanics had also hosted the Second Annual San Diego Robotics Exposition. At the Robotics Expo, prospecting educators and high school students in San Diego county would be able to learn about FIRST and watch a live competition between participating TSD high schools. The San Diego Robotics Exposition also solicits and educates possible sponsors. Our performance at the Southern California Regional honored us with the Engineering Inspiration Award. The team had decided to go on to compete in the National FIRST Robotics Competition in Atlanta where we received the national Engineering Inspiration Award.


Team 812 founded Team San Diego. Team San Diego [TSD] is a coalition of all San Diego Robotics Teams. The mission of TSD is to provided assistance, support, and communication or all FRC teams in the San Diego area. Team 812 has demonstrated the fact that they are the leaders of the San Diego coalition. Team 812 has supplied the San Diego teams with mentors and partnerships.

Angelina Saldivar presents to FIRST Lego League students the importance of gracious professionalism


Season: In 2004, the Midnight Mechanics had to hit the floor running. The team was very busy. With months of planning, Team 812 had hosted the first annual FIRST Lego League Competition at the Preuss School UCSD. Dozens of FLL Teams from around the San Diego and Los Angeles area were invited to participate in the competition. The team had also registered with FIRST for two FLL teams in order to further permeate the message of FIRST in our school. The team had also mentored other FLL teams in San Diego.


Season: Upon our return in the fall of 2004, Team 812

Lisa Duong draws up the Ball Gathering design team’s description of a possible mechanism for the robot


community outreach events that distributed the message of FIRST and made the Midnight Mechanics a reckoned force in the San Diego area. Our students transitioned from being underrepresented to renown. At the Southern California Regional, the Midnight Mechanics were recognized for all of their hard ward and determination. Team 812 was the Los Angeles Regional Chairman’s Award winner. Season: The 2006 season has been the busiest season yet for the Midnight Mechanics. With many of our past participants transitioning into their college environment, Team 812 has been replenished with many participants in their freshmen and sophomore years of high school. Veterans have worked diligently to instill their knowledge and skills into the novices. Team 812 has given rise to the FIRST BUDY [Building Understanding in Developing Youth] System. The BUDY System is a program in which Team 812 plays in active role in the community through educational assistance. Our Chairman’s Group has built partnerships with the Preuss School UCSD Saturday Enrichment Academy [SEA], the San Diego Boys and Girls Club, the San Diego YMCA, the San Diego Beckworth Library, the San Diego City High School SWAP Program, and the Monarch School of San Diego to provide mathematics and science tutoring and mentoring, technology assistance and support, medical profession education, and good health services. In addition, the Midnight Mechanics’ Chairman’s Group had initiated the FIRST STEPS [Students Together for Education and Promotion of Science] Program which has build partnerships with the MIT MITES Program, the UCSD and UCI COSMOS Program, the WPI GEMS/WUNDERS Program, SDSU School of Engineering, and the NASA NSBRI to educate the community about scholarship programs which advocate mathematics


had continued to achieve the same success from the past. The team had created partnerships with the University of California, San Diego and CAL[IT]2 to design and implement a college level engineering course, MAE3, for Preuss School students. The program was to introduce students into the field of engineering and assist them in their development as the future generation of success. In addition, Team 812 had successful recruited addition teams to join Team San Diego. The coalition had then developed an organized system in which provided support for novice teams as well as assistances, such as mentoring, supplies, and the necessities for robot building. We continued to host the Annual San Diego Robotics Exposition and the Annual FIRST Lego League Competition. Having the national competition experience has greatly reshaped the team. Each member is more focused and devoted to obtaining success in the construction of the robot and instilling the values of FIRST in the community. Each member of the team had to organize his or her own community service project. As a result, the team had successful piloted over forty


and science. Team 812 holds conferences and events in which promotes the programs. The conferences are designed to teach students the process of application, provide Alumni experience, and instill the message of FIRST. In addition, to continuing our annual expositions and FLL competitions, the team has endeavored to bridge new relationships with local San Diego businesses and organizations. Team 812 has partnered with the University of California, San Diego RUBI Project which is an endeavor in the interactions between children and robots. The team has also, once again, continued our partnership with the Preuss School UCSD, SPAWAR, the Machine Perception Laboratories at UCSD, General Motors, the Anngenberg Foundation, and the San Diego County Fair. Team 812

has fifteen mentors, the largest turn out in our five years of participating in FIRST. Our robot, M5, features a shooting mechanism and functions as a defensive robot. Though our standings were not as prominent as we expected, we were able to gain valuable experiences during the process. Team 812 has spent accumulated total of 3,000 hours bringing FIRST to our community. We established the FIRST BUDDY [Building Understand and Determination in Developing Youth] Program to help students in a disadvantaged position and provide them the resources to succeed.

Team works on robot frame



We spend over 15 hours a week and Saturday mornings at school tutoring students in hope to instill an interest in math and science among the youth. We are involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs, day care centers, and San Diego Public Libraries. Our relationships with Students Actively Volunteering for You and Volunteer San Diego allow us access to community events. At the San Diego We Care Fair, our team presented engineering and technology through an artistic discipline. The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center gives team members volunteer opportunities to be involved with interactive science education. In addition, we implemented FIRST STEPS [Students Together for Education and Promotion of Science] to introduce students to a future in math and science. Our partnerships with University of California COSMOS, Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITES, NASA National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Temple University Physician Scientist Training Program, and WPI GEMS makes FIRST STEPS is the first successful scholarship and internship advocacy program initiated by any FIRST team. The University of California, San Diego Machine Perception Laboratory solicited Team 812 as a part of their Robot Using Bayesian Inference [RUBI] Program. The RUBI Program studies artificial intelligence through robot-human interaction. Through RUBI, we will become involved with the research of cognitive sciences at the future UCSD Dynamic Learning Center, an institute funded by the National Science Foundation. Through their Reach for Tomorrow Program, we will assist in the matriculation of students into four-year universities. Our efforts to change the community and culture of America have been recognized by community leaders and companies such as the University of

California, San Diego, the Preuss School UCSD, General Motors, the Annenberg Foundation, UCSD Machine Perception Laboratory, SPAWAR, San Diego County Fair, and Qualcomm. In addition to being a Regional and National Engineering Inspiration team, Team 812 has also been a Chairman’s Award winning team at the Southern California Regional Competition for the past two years. Coming from low-income backgrounds and the inner-city of San Diego, we understand the importance of education, as they are the first generation university bound students in our families. We were the children who were not supposed to go to college. We were not supposed to make a difference in our communities. But despite these dogmas of society, we did.



making history


was on my way to becoming a lawyer until I collided into FIRST Robotics. I was the timid, introverted girl that never spoke up in class, sitting in the back corner of the classroom, and waited for things to come to me. I thought it would not be too time-consuming, did give out good scholarship money for the future, and would be a nice addition to my list of extracurricular activities. I was not expecting any dramatic life changes. I was very wrong. I found I could not tear myself away from our FIRST Robotics team, and programmed the robot in the wee hours of the morning. FIRST is worth all those hours that I spent, because not only did I learn programming, but to actually value gracious professionalism, love science and math, and have a tremendous amount of fun. Upon joining the FIRST Robotics team at my school, I became entranced with the world of innovation and progress, and started researching on the new, creative technologies today. That soft-spoken girl is now gone. I am before you a mature, college-bound, participant in college-preparatory class discussions. I actively search for opportunities, with a determination to excel. Constantly looking for connections with my extracurricular activities, I am no longer complacent with what I learn in class, and learned to apply everything and anything in “real life” scenarios, while never too shy or cautious to ask questions – implemented by FIRST. I love learning, and my involvement in robotics forced me to let go of my hesitation. FIRST changed me; I became

Christina Nguyen



outgoing, and loved talking to other people about FIRST- on the airplane, the elevator, conferences, and other club meetings. I also learned to balance my time, become more organized, and as a result, my grades and confidence have gone up. Now less passive in class, I try to inspire youths around me, and smile at the “competitors’” victories. I remember I rolled my eyes at the bulletin notice in eighth grade about FIRST Robotics, thinking science was not for me, that I was surely going to be in humanities. I had been at The Preuss School UCSD since sixth grade, in 1999, its groundbreaking first year, and will be part of the first class that has been through its entire seven years. My friends, whom I have known for those seven years, marveled at how much I have changed by FIRST. This fall, I am planning to major in biochemistry or biomedical engineering. Over the past summer, I interned at a biochemical research laboratory, because I was extremely interested in a particular protein’s link to neurodegenerative diseases. I had to search out this particular internship, actually take the initiative to read countless articles and find principal investigators’ contact information. The Midnight Mechanics have made this happen; they have taught me to never be cautious of chasing my dreams of doing research. Currently, I am interning at the Cal-[IT]2 as a programmer to develop curriculum for a class at UCSD. I am also active in many community service activities, and co-founded a new one for organ and tissue donation while being the primary grant-writer. FIRST Robotics has been the catalyst in redirecting my career goals. I have always wanted to be influential to the younger generation. Now, I do not only want to be a role model, but be influential as to how people perceived math and science. As a girl, people, especially those in my family, have had a hard time accepting the fact that I was interested in pursuing a profession in math and science. In addition, as a Preuss School UCSD studenta low-income, first-generation college-bound student- I rose above the expectations of society

despite my circumstances. No one expected that I, a female Preuss School UCSD student, would have done research, help program four robots, and help my community before my high school graduation. Preuss FIRST Robotics has changed these conceptions. My family now accepts that I am more than just a helpless girl. I have become a complete FIRST enthusiast, and almost as importantly, a science “geek.” I still value the humanities, and love keeping up with current events, but I have since realized science fits me – I blame it all on Team 812.


inspiring inspiration



IRST founder Dean Kamen set out to start FIRST “ create a world where science and technology are celebrated....where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes....” Has this dream been accomplished? Perhaps to some degree. Students are starting to see the opportunities in science and technology; sports stars and Hollywood celebrities are no longer role models (nor should they ever have been), but the mentors and engineers they work with in robotics have taken the charge. When I got involved in FIRST, I told myself that I would continue participating as long as it was fun. Preuss Robotics has shown me that I will be staying in FIRST for a long, long time. This small charter school for lowincome students generates some of the most motivated students I have ever known. In my experience as a mentor throughout Southern California, I know how it is to have a small team, to have a team of unmotivated students, to have a team that does not embody the true spirit of FIRST. But Midnight Mechanics are different. They have a certain energy within them that inspires mentors like myself to return year after year and help out. A relatively large team of sixty or so students, no student is ever found idling, no student ever shown to have discipline problems. Every student displays an enthusiasm for robotics that keeps me coming back, day after day to help. This program is an amazing success; its alumni are a testament to this; as they have all gotten into four year universities, when these students may not have had this opportunity previously. As a college

1 - Rob Mainieri & George Chen 2 - Mentoring programming team 3 - Teacher Dan Rupert with the team robot



student, I enjoy sharing my experiences with these students, taking their questions, and providing a personal perspective to higher education. Though it’s all things that students have heard before, being a student about their age who has gone through the process allows me to connect with students. These kids become more than students, they become friends. I could have easily left FIRST after high school. I was set on being a science major throughout high school; I didn’t need FIRST to inspire me to follow math and science. Why then, did I return in college to another FIRST team? Because I believe in mentorship. When my students tell me about their backgrounds; how they wanted to be a lawyer, how they were unsure about what to do with their lives, and how FIRST has given them guidance. They may not want to go into engineering; but FIRST has shown me that there is so much more that they can get out of the program. When I see how students have become inspired by the program, it makes me work harder. It is my personal goal to inspire students to go beyond their means, to see what they can accomplish outside a normal academic curriculum. This is why I stay with FIRST. I teach at the Southern California Regional Robotics Forum Workshops every year at Cal State Northridge, teaching a variety of topics, from Vex Robotics to Chairman’s Award, Website design to leadership. Two years ago, a rookie team attended one of my workshops. I didn’t think much of it, they were just another team who showed up. But

that year at Los Angeles Regionals, several of their students and one of their mentors recognized me and thanked me for inspiring them to be a model team. Inspiring? At the time, it was a foreign concept to me; just a high school student, to have the ability to truly inspire a team of students that he/she had never met. Being a mentor for FIRST is not easy street. It requires dedication, patience, and caring. It requires a bond of trust be formed between students and mentors. Every year during build season I question why I am here, why I put myself through so many sleepless nights to merely volunteer. I don’t get any recognition from this; I don’t earn 15 minutes of fame. Then I look at my students, my friends, and realize why it’s all worthwhile. The knowledge that these students have excelled beyond what was expected of them. They weren’t supposed to go to college. They weren’t supposed to make a difference. But they have. And I am honored to have been part of that journey.

Mentor George Chen with student Christina Nguyen at the Team San Diego Pre-Ship Pickup Game



team demographics
eam 812 believes that academic achievement is the key to a successful future. The Preuss FIRST Robotics team, along with the Preuss School, endeavors to instill math, science, and technology among the youth. Our main target is our peers at the Preuss School. Over the past six years, the Preuss FIRST Robotics team has worked to initiate peer mentorship programs at Preuss in order to assist struggling students. a testimony of our success if seeing that our peers score, on average, higher on the California High School Exit Exam than the entire San Diego School District and the state of California.

School Enrollment by Race & Ethnicity

Preuss School UCSD

San Diego County

Asian White African American

Latino Filipino Pacific Islander

*Out of 100% Acceptance rate

California High School Exit Exam Pass Rate (Out of one sitting)

20% 43.6% 20% 16.4%


Statewide San Diego County Preuss School

he robotics team is a mix of students from every grade level. The involvement from all students is high and very active. Each student is different and brings something new and interesting to the table. With every grade level represented, the learning levels are different and upperclassmen are able to mentor and assist the lowerclassmen. In addition, the team is composed of an ethically diverse student body. With students representing various nations from around the world, the cultural experience for many students is lafe changing. Through the club, students are able to learn more about customs and traditions of other cultures while gaining first-hand experience in the math and science arena.





Preuss AP Exams Taken, by Subject
US History Spanish Lit Spanish Lang European His English Lang Art History
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

Class of 2002-2003 13



University of California Community Colleges California State University Private Colleges








our accomplishments


t the 2004 FIRST National Championships, I feel out of my seat when I heard Woodie Flowers announced, ‘... And the National Engineering Inspiration Award goes to the Preuss School UCSD!’ It was an honor for FIRST to recognize our dedication to spreading the message of FIRST. It was exciting because this award was traditionally given to a national Chairman’s Award winner.” - Christopher Khavarian


udge’s Statement: [2005 at Southern California Regional]

Testimonies of Success:
2002 - All Star Rookie Award @ Southern California Regional 2003 - Daimler-Chrysler Team Spirit Award @ Southern California Regional 2003 - Judges Award @ Arizona Regional 2004 - Engineering Inspiration Award @ Southern California Regional 2004 - Engineering Inspiration Award @ National Championship in Atlanta 2005 - Chairman’s Award @ Southern California Regional 2006- Chairman’s Award @ Southern California Regional

“This team has dedicated thousands of hours to serving its community and surrounding area. This includes mentoring multiple successful FIRST teams, guiding each from the start, staying with them until they develop into sustaining teams on their own. They have supported Lego League teams ever since the teams first year of operation and seems tirless in their efforst to reach out to younger kids. With team members from member demographic groups, this team values and promises diversity and involvment in science and techonology, independent of background. Their motivation, contagious in every member of this team, shows that they have taken every principle of FIRST to their hearts, and can demonstrate the results in clear and personal ways. This team continues to grow from their homebase and beyond. Even their minor setbacks only encourages them further. Outreach begans at home, but seems to have no end for them. Each member of this may have BEEN the child who was not supposed to go to college, but today, this is THEIR story.”


impact on students
he major new addition to the Preuss School UCSD is the FIRST Robotics class, offered to high school students. This class is primarily for students learning project management skills. As a student-run club, we plan and organize events such as the San Diego Lego Challenge, and coordinate with the Team San Diego to put on our three major events. We work on public relations, promotional materials, multimedia, community outreach, and contacting key individuals in our community as part of our curriculum. The emphasis on this class is more on working on leadership and management skills that is useful and important for the future of The Preuss School students. Enrollment in this class is not only limited to Team 812 members; by doing so, this class can affect more than its usual base of Midnight Mechanics members. For high school students wanting to be involved with engineering, we also offer the Introduction to Engineering and Principles of Engineering classes. As a small school, it is difficult to implement many elective classes; to offer to have two engineering classes demonstrates our large impact on curriculum at The Preuss School UCSD, as these were introduced relatively recently. The engineering classes immerse the students in hands-on, projectbased, learning that FIRST Robotics has inspired. These classes use Autodesk Inventor to transform their innovative ideas into real products. Many of


1 - Mentors from MPLab help the programming team 2 - Students take a break from working


these design projects actually become products that are made by the students, to provide an insight into their ideas and goals. MIDNIGHT MECHANICS | FIRST TEAM 812 As a six through twelve grade institution, we also extend our influences into the middle school. We have instated FIRST Lego League teams, named the Mini Mechanics, whom we mentor. We also host the San Diego Lego Challenge which the Mini Mechanics compete in. The middle school offers an engineering course to expose middle school students to apply math and science, as a result of our presence and inspiration to younger students. There is also the option of BotBall for the older middle school students not in FLL. We also introduce the BEWiSE [Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering] program to female students in these early years. As a result, many of our middle school students are also Sally Ride Festival participants and later, FIRST Robotics members and engineers. Our efforts school-wide include tutoring after school for all levels of math, tutoring for Saturday Enrichment Academy in math and science. Since the members in FIRST are academically successful, we are sought-after tutors for mathematics – ranging from Calculus to Algebra and Geometry. Our FIRST STEPS program also extends to The Preuss School UCSD. Since our school is focused on success at attending and doing well at four-year universities, the FIRST STEPS program is well integrated in the community of The Preuss School UCSD. The result of these programs is more students involved at The Preuss School UCSD with mathematics-based activities. Team 812 is integral to have these programs implemented; no science and math existed prior to its existence. Since its conception, these changes have dramatically affected The Preuss School UCSD and its students. Along with influencing career-determining decisions, the encouragement and family atmosphere created by the robotics team has lead to students overcoming their personal obstacles.

Many are also involved with other science-related activities on and out of campus. The students at The Preuss School UCSD have undoubtedly been transformed into able-minded individuals; authorities to change how others perceive math and science.

preuss school



reuss School was established on the UCSD campus in Fall 1999. Preuss is chartered under San Diego Unified School District. Its mission is to provide an intensive college preparatory curriculum to low-income student populations and to improve educational practices in grades 612. If these goals are realized, the school will matriculate students who are competitively eligible to enter the University of California or other selective institutions of higher education. The School opened with 150 students in grades 6 – 8, and now is fully enrolled with 767 students in grades 6 – 12.

Preuss 2004/05 demographics are: 59.5% Hispanic, 12.9% African American, 21.7% Asian, 6% White. ANNUAL REPORT | 2006

Preuss students are selected through a process of application and lottery. Eligibility is based on: student is from a low-income family [per Federal school lunch criteria]; student has no parent or guardian who has graduated from a 4-year college or university; student has the academic potential and motivation to benefit from an intensive college preparatory program. Preuss School is housed in a $14 million dollar facility on the UCSD campus. One hundred percent of the design and construction funds came from community donors. EDUCATIONAL MODEL UCSD research into educational practices looks

1 - Team Meeting 2 - FLL Tournament at Preuss School 3 - Students CAD in the computer lab


at three critical areas: The school year [198 days vs. 180 traditionally], school day [396 minutes per day vs. an average of 360] and smaller class size in all grades [25 vs. 34 district-wide]. All three are mainstays of the Preuss program; our students log 74,669 instructional minutes each year compared to the State requirement of 64,800. The Preuss educational program is made up of two components:[1] the quality of our student learning activities, and [2] the teaching strategies to support students’ learning. Work centers on research, application, and reflection on the best practices for teaching. From its inception, the Preuss model included the goal of disseminating to the K-12 community what has worked well in improving students’ performance in curriculum implementation [what students learn], instructional improvement [how teachers teach], and staff development [teaching disadvantaged students]. The school has recently been awarded a $200,000 Dissemination Grant from the State. The school will disseminate to the K-12 community best practices in three interdependent areas of its educational program: [1] how the structure of the school supports students’ learning; [2] staff development activities; and [3] research strategies that most effectively serve disadvantaged students. More specifically, this funding will enable the propagation of effective teaching strategies; literacy approaches; lessons aligned to standards; methods of interaction among teachers, students, parents, and the university; and, how assessment informs our work in curriculum and instruction for

disadvantaged students. PERFORMANCE INDICATORS All Preuss students are involved in a serious college going culture as evidenced by taking the most challenging classes that complete the A-G requirements for entrance into the University of California or any prestigious 4 year college or university. The following chart indicates that Preuss students are fulfilling the mission of closing the achievement gap in San Diego County by exposing all of our low-income students to this challenging environment:
Preuss San Diego Unified California




In 2003 Preuss Students outperformed all high schools in San Diego County on the High School Exit exam in Language Arts. Of the students in the class of 2006 98% passed the language section and 97% passed the math section.

Robotics supplies and tools


Preuss Students have an overall attendance record of 98% which is higher than any middle or high school in the San Diego Unified School District [District average attendance is approximately 93%]. The Preuss School has a high percentage of Advanced Placement [AP] scholars, and many more have achieved AP status – every student from grades 10-12 has completed at least one AP class. The Preuss School’s recent academic performance index score of 845 places it as a top scoring high school in San Diego County. In May 2003, 596 AP tests were administered to 284 students. Of those students 57% of the 11th graders passed with a score of three or better, and 47% of the 10th graders passed with a score of three or better and 32% of the 12th graders passed with a score of three or better. Preuss is considered a high performing school on the State’s Academic Performance Index [API] [i.e., over the last 5 years Preuss has averaged 826 out of a possible 1000 points]. Preuss compares favorably to other San Diego Unified School District high performing middle and high schools. Additionally, Preuss’ success can be seen in the increasing collaboration among school stakeholder groups in supporting and delivering the educational program, and in the student support systems.



midnight mechanics blog


he Programming group is one of the, if not the most important group in construction. Without the program code, there would be no operating robot.

January 17, 2006: The Programming group defined its goals for today: assemble the camera, compile and test code, modify, and update onto SVN [a repository]. We downloaded all the default code and necessary programs, compiled, and got a power source for the microcontroller. Some verified that the camera assembly was correct. We ran into trouble with the USB-serial converters needed to upload code. Since the drivers would not install properly, we finished for the day. The Machine Perception Laboratory engineers, who help us a lot, will bring another USB-serial converter tomorrow. Hopefully, we’ll be able to load code and start modifying some of it. We hope to have all the necessary programs (MPLAB, C18, and IFI Loader) onto SVN for all team members to have at their disposal. Tomorrow, we should organize all the codes from last year, and start calibrating and analyzing the camera code. Over the course of the next month, the Programming group went from a camera whcih sensed sunlight, to one that tracked the green light used in competition.

Programming team at work


February 16th, 2006: Progress today! We have the pan and tilt servos working independently, but not together. We also programmed this year’s robot, but had problems because we want two Robot Controllers to work with; the one on the 2006 robot and the one on our testing 2005 robot. However, there were problems in loading code into last year’s microcontroller. We also moved code into a different function to be called from autonomous mode. We now have two working dongles, thankfully. Testing has been a lot easier, and we’re getting closer to optimal gain constants and such. It’s getting really close to ship date, and we’re more behind than we want to. At least we’re driving! We eventually had the camera and drive train responding very well, but the time to test on the robot was not enough to work reliably on the 2006 robot. What we had done during the building season was to develop code and tested through last season’s robot, because in the past, the software team did not have enough time to develop code and test. The Programming group has progressed significantly due to the Machine Perception Laboratory (MPLAB)’s mentorship. With only one Programming veteran on the team, who was graduating this year, the main objective was to get all of the code written, and to have the next generation of programmers knowledgeable and ready. Growth could only happen with learning and teaching, through us, the students.



midnight mechanics blog


he Shooter Group has been among the most crucial aspects to the 2006 competition. Our shooter is the main source for scoring points, as the objective of the game is “to shoot balls into a hoop.” The Shooter Group began their six week building season on:

January 17, 2006: Mr. Rupert purchased a wheel that is a little bit over 14 inches but we are planning to shave it down to be exactly 14 inches. The shooter group figured out the RPM for the wheel, by doing mathematical conversions. We then looked at the Motor Performance to fine the best way to run the actual shooter. We are currently looking at different timing belts and pulleys for the shooter. Mr. Rupert has some connections that would help us to create our magnificent shooter. Tomorrow we hope to finish finding the timings belt that we need and place an order on it as soon as possible. Over the course of six weeks, the Shooter Group has made outstanding progress: February 9, 2006: Paul, Gary, Ximena, and Lisa finished drilling the holes on the pulley pieces. Using the drill press was very difficult because we were not getting enough torque to drill into the pieces of the

Shooter team at work


aluminum, with the 3/4 bit. Mr. Rupert increased the torque for us, making it easier for us to accomplish our task. Today, we had 6 of the 8 CIM motor mounts, however, we soon realized that the inner diameter is slightly bigger then we expected. So Scott jumped onto the mill and shaved down the edges of 4 of the 8 mounts. Scott also worked on the chain to drive the guide of the shooter. Tomorrow we hope to mount the pulley pieces onto the wheel, and we also would like to mount the CIM motors. The shooting team eventually mounted the CIM motors, and got it working by the Pick-Up Game that Saturday. The whole mechanism involves not only building with tools and machines, but calculating, strategizing, and working with other teams.

Student Paul Ngyuen grinds down the shooter wheel



midnight mechanics blog


he Ball Gathering group was introduced to Team 812 because of the ball-gathering aspect of the 2006 competition. They have shown to be exemplary and outstanding. January 17, 2006: Today we were able to figure out what type of system the PVC rollers would use in order to move and transport the 7” ball up the gathering system. The decided system would be a chain system that would turn the rollers. The specifications were made as we searched online and through catalogues to find suitable parts. The main parts we researched were the sprockets and the chains that would be used. Using the useful internet catalogue for McMaster Carr Nylon Sprockets and Acetyl Chains were found. By using these plastic parts it would minimize the overall weight of the ball gathering mechanism and the robot in general. Our goal was met today by figuring out how we would mount the rollers onto a frame stably while not interfering with the rotation of the PVC rollers and making sure that the PVC rollers would not move left to right while transporting the balls upwards. The solution was to attach a PVC cap onto the ends of the PVC rollers, then drilling a smaller hole into that cap to insert a rod through the PVC roller and the aluminum frames on each side. Attached to the cap would also be our nylon sprockets which would mobilize our PVC by the acetyl chain system. Our goal for next meeting is to draw out the specifications and hopefully start ordering our needed parts. Ball gatherer is a work in great progress!

Student lead Brigitte Rubidoux and teacher Dan Rupert with ball collecting device. 24

As we transitioned over the course of the next few weeks later, the Ball Gathering group documented: February 6, 2006: Today after school we were able to accomplish a lot, but it was also a day of problems. We were able to attach all of the rollers onto the frame, including finding the right amount of space we needed to keep the three vital PVC rollers from sliding horizontally. Thien cut the chain length and we were going to put the chain on, until we found a problem. One of the back supports is in the way of letting the roller spin freely, so we cut that off and Thien and Jose created holes on the back of the frame. With a new bar, they created a U-Bracket; this allows the PVC roller to move freely without the support in the way. Also on one of the bottom supports, the chain would have to run over it and this is a problem. The right angle was inhibiting the chain from running smoothly, so Melanie and I grinded the area down and fixed the problem. We also drilled a 3/8 hole on the side of the frame where the motor sprocket was. We did this because, before we had a 1/4 hole but it was too small for the sprocket, whose diameter was 3/8. Once we had everything in place, we put on the chain. Everything seemed to be working perfectly... until we encountered another problem. The chain would hit the PVC cap and cause it to elevate, thus causing the chain to jump. All we have to do is file the caps down so the chains don’t touch it. Next time we will file down the PVC caps and also work on a design for a motor mount. Even though the ball gathering was very calculated and worked on every single problem, the ball gathering mechanism ended up not going on the

robot. The general idea was interesting and seemed like it would work, but did not execute as perfectly as wanted, and scrapped the mechanism. The ball gathering team moved onto a net that would catch the balls from a human shooter, which would actually be more efficient.

Student and mentor working on robot



midnight mechanics blog


he Drive Train group is essential to the success of our robot. They are in charge of the motor and chasis aspect of our robot. They began their documentation on:

January 12, 2006: As the meeting started, Mr. Rupert gave a presentation on the four main group[Drive Train, Ball Gathering, Ball Shooting, and Programming]. Then the club broke into those groups. Drive train met outside and our lovely tutor Scott went over the design of our “ideal” Robot. He talked about this year’s robot having 6 wheels instead of 4 and explained why. Soon after, Thien gathered the group and headed for the shed to look at last years Robot. Measurements were then taken of the gears, gear ratio, and sprockets. We also discussed the idea of torque or speed for our robot. About a month later, the Drive Train has progressed and commented on: February 9, 2006:

1 - Paul Nguyen and Antoinette Brou at work 2 - Paul Nguyen and mentor Neal Bloom


Today in Drive Train, we finished the bumper. As there is not much for Drive Train to do anymore, we’ve dispersed out into other groups to help them. We’ve been helping ball gatherer a lot in the last two days, and we’ll be doing that tomorrow too. A finished Drive Train in less than a month has been a goal of our team. This has progressed from having a working Drive Train moments before shipping last year, and no working robot from two and three years ago. The primary responsibilities

of the Drive Train is going through kit of parts to see most promising Drive Train, learning about characteristics of all motors, designing, building, and testing gearboxes if needed, and deciding on type of wheels or treads. Drive Train communicates with all of the teams more often, because it has more obligations to think about of space constraints and where to put all the components. Through the PEMP, the Drive Train can work knowing that the components would succeed.



midnight mechanics blog
ike a program code, without electricity, the robot would not function. That is the element which makes the Electrical group one of the most essential on the contruction team. January 17, 2006: The Electrical group’s goal for today was to read over the schematics of the power distribution given by FIRST and to start building a prototype of the electrical board so the mechanical team can test motors for the robot. We printed out the schematics, read it over to track how much would be needed to test out a motor, and started checking all the electrical parts. Then, programming asked us to wire the 12V battery to the main control board [Robot Controller] so they could test out the camera, and we did. After that, we started mounting the components for the prototype on a piece of plywood. We were finished for the day. Tomorrow, we are hoping to finish mounting all the parts needed onto the board and wire it so that mechanical can start testing their motors and choose the right ones to use on the robot. Over the six week period, the Electrical group faced challenges both within and outside of FIRST Robotics: January 31, 2006: Thuy, our Electrical Leader cannot come to Robotics anymore, so the lead position has been shifted to me, Summer. This means we’re one man down. Today we placed a lot of the components on the electrical board, but programming needed half the board with the speed controllers, so we couldn’t wire anything because they had half of our board! At the next meeting we plan on wiring all or most of the components, and make sure that our design stays compatible with the Shooter and Drive Train groups, because they tend to change their minds without telling anyone else. There were many obstacles thrown at the electrical team this year. All of the electrical members were rookies, and the lead had some top-priority family problems. Thus, there was less leadership, but all of the members had learned a lot from Electrical this year. Despite all this, the robot works, and the Electrical group came together to make an efficient electrical system.
Student electrical lead Thuy Ly


our sponsors
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center San Diego [SSC San Diego] is the U.S. Navy’s research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support center for command, control and communication systems and ocean surveillance. SSC San Diego provides information resources to support the joint warfighter in mission execution and force protection. General Motors General Motors Corp., the world’s largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader since 1931. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 325,000 people around the world. It has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 200 countries. In 2004, GM sold nearly 9 million cars and trucks globally, up 4 percent and the second-highest total in the company’s history. GM’s global headquarters are at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. The Annenberg Foundation The Annenberg Foundation is the successor corporation to the Annenberg School at Radnor, Pennsylvania established in 1958 by Walter H. Annenberg. It exists to advance the public wellbeing through improved communication. As the principal means of achieving its goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. Ambassador Annenberg has observed that the transmission of information is a factor in every human advancement or reversal. In an age of fiber optic cables and satellites, events are witnessed

eam 812 is supported by community members and leaders. We inspire the art of engineering in others and a model of a successful engineering corporation. UCSD Nestled along the Pacific Ocean on 1,200 acres of coastal woodland, UCSD is a powerful magnet for those seeking a fresh, next-generation approach to education and research. Since its founding over four decades ago, UCSD -- one of the ten campuses in the world-renowned University of California system -- has rapidly achieved the status as one of the top institutions in the nation for higher education and research. UCSD’s interdisciplinary ethos and tradition of innovation and risk-taking, underlie its research strength and ability to recruit top scholars and students. The Preuss School UCSD Preuss School was established on the UCSD campus in Fall 1999. Preuss is chartered under San Diego Unified School District. Its mission is to provide an intensive college preparatory curriculum to low-income student populations and to improve educational practices in grades 6 through 12. If these goals are realized, the school will matriculate students who are competitively eligible to enter the University of California or other selective institutions of higher education. The School opened with 150 students in grades 6 through 8, and now is fully enrolled with 767 students in grades 6 through 12. SPAWAR


around the world even as they take place and the very telling of the tale affects the pace and nature of change. MIDNIGHT MECHANICS | FIRST TEAM 812 But the revolution wrought by communications began more than five centuries ago. The swift and cheap dissemination of information first made possible by Gutenberg’s invention of movable type has given rise to new political, social, and cultural forms that have enhanced life for millions of people. While the modern computer and broadcast technology are important communications tools, they are only amplifiers and extenders of the visual image, written word, and human voice. The Foundation’s focus is not on chips and wires but rather on education, particularly public school restructuring and reform in the United States. The Foundation is open to collaboration with other philanthropic institutions. UCSD Machine Perception Laboratory The goal of the Machine Perception Laboratory [MPLab] is to gain insights into how the brain works by developing embodied systems that solve problems similar to those encountered by the brain. We focus on systems that perceive and interact with humans in real time using natural communication channels [e.g., visual, auditory, and tactile information]. To this effect we are developing perceptual primitives to detect and track human faces and to recognize facial expressions. We are also developing probabilistic models for integrating multiple sensory modalities, and actions. Developing such systems requires a multidisciplinary approach that combines mathematical modeling, machine learning techniques, computational modeling of brain function, and behavioral experiments. Applications include personal robots, automatic tutoring

systems, and automatic assessment of affective disorders. San Diego County Fair In 1880, a group of San Diegans organized an agricultural fair to bring county farmers together to share ideas, see who had the best citrus fruit, who baked the best pie, and who had the fastest horse. After that first fair, the county fair was held annually with a few exceptions in various county locations until 1936, when it moved to its present Del Mar home. Qualcomm QUALCOMM’s active philanthropy and volunteerism programs are essential to our corporate commitment to creating meaningful community relationships. QUALCOMM’s giving and volunteerism programs are based on respect for community organizations and their constituencies, cooperative leadership development and philanthropic creativity. QUALCOMM’s corporate volunteerism program, QUALCOMM Cares, was developed to encourage employee involvement in the community and is our way of connecting our diverse employee base to local volunteer opportunities. From walka-thons to holiday drives, QUALCOMM Cares creates many opportunities for its employees, friends and families to participate in charitable events. Serving a wide range of needs, our employees are helping people with disabilities, improving the environment, feeding and clothing the homeless, and caring for animals. QUALCOMM Cares organizes volunteer team building projects as special opportunities for internal departments to foster teamwork and celebrate accomplishments, while contributing to the improvement of the San Diego community.
Computer Science building at UCSD

community outreach
into institutes of higher learning. In addition to our attempts to reach out into our communities, Team 812 established the FIRST STEPS program which builds partnerships with MIT MITES, UCSD, SDSU, UC COSMOS, Temple University Physician Scientist Training Program, John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, WPI Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science, and NASA National Science Biomedical Research Institute to motivate children to pursue professions in math and science. Preuss Robotics believes that it is their duty to spread the message of FIRST. The personal growths they have seen within themselves motivate them to reach out to others. This can be seen through our three thousand hours of community service and outreach programs. Each year, Team 812 endeavor to innovatively integrate math, science, and engineering into our communities. This year, Team 812 has been revolutionary in launching our mass science outreach projects targeted towards students in our underserved communities. eam 812 has initiated several programs in order to instill an interest in engineering in the youth. This year, Team 812 reached out to communities beyond the San Diego community. Trough the FIRST BUDDY program, the Midnight Mechanics reached out to neighborhood Los Angeles, Riverside, Imperial, and Orange counties. Our team brought concepts of math, science, and engineering to our communities by mentoring two FIRST Lego League teams at the Preuss School UCSD. In addition, we coordinated the second informal Annual San Diego FIRST Lego League Competition. Other programs launched by FIRST included establishing engineering education with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Saturday Enrichment Academy, peer mentorship at San Diego Public Libraries, local Boys and Girls Clubs, the Monarch School, and communities events, such as the UCSD Sally Ride Festival. In addition, we partnered with Student Actively Volunteering for You and Volunteer San Diego to further our endeavors. We have also worked with the University of California, San Diego Machine Perception Laboratory [MPLab] as the outreach portion of their institute. Our involvement with the MPLab includes a partnership with Project RUBI [Robot Using Bayesian Inference] which studies artificial intelligence through robot to human interactions. In addition, Project RUBI solicited our team to take part in their Reach for Tomorrow Program [RTP] and the future UCSD Dynamic Learning Center [DLC] which works to matriculate students




community outreach
he University of California Regents govern the largest public unversity system in the world. They oversee the operations of over nine of the top institutes of higher education, including: University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of California, San Diego. “On behalf of the Regents of the University of California, we commend you for your hard work and accomplishments. Your commitment to the community is remarkable and can be seen throughout the state. We wish you great luck at competitions and know that all of the UC campuses are rooting for you.” -Regent Gerald Parsky Chairman of the Board “I have seen the Preuss School Robotics Team grow since its very inception. They have strived for excellence and are excelling past anyone’s imagination. The impact that they have had on the community is immense and can be seen through anything that they do. This group of motivated young adults gives me confidence in what the future brings.” -Regent Peter Preuss. “The work that you have done in such a short amount of time amazes me. You are a testament t the success of the Preuss School. Congratulations on your achievements.” -President Robert Dynes President of the University of California

Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego


FIRST lego league


or the past four years, members from Team 812 mentored sixth, seventh, and eight grade students participating in the FIRST Lego League [FLL] program at The Preuss School UCSD. In the 2005 season, Team 812 participants mentored two FLL teams independently, without adult support, acting as engineering mentors in the FIRST Robotics program.

San Diego FLL Tournamment

Through these experiences, everyone gained a deeper appreciation for the mission of the FLL competition. Team 812 members were able to instigate excitement about the core ideals of FIRST. They also proudly watched the matriculation of the next generation of scientists and engineers. In doing so, team members were motivated to set higher standards for the next generation by being


The game was “Ocean Odyssey,” for 2006, which focused on the working conditions of the professions that involve water. This was a connection to the global news of the Tsunami in India. The team assignment was to pick up victims and lost possessions in the sea. Not only did the FLL members learn how to build Lego robots, but they also learn about the geographical and marine biological concepts of the ocean and its conditions. They demonstrated understanding of these concepts by creating their own PowerPoint presentation and presenting that presentation to a panel of judges.

able to surpass the expectations established for them today. Such young individuals inspired by FIRST already, in turn, inspire Team 812 members. “Working with students who are underclassmen, who have the urge to learn and experience what is like a miniature First Robotics Competition is what drives me to continue to mentor in FLL. It is amazing watching how excited the students become when they have their LEGO robot drive a few inches towards their objective. This exciting experience drives their motivation. Their motivation is what fuels me.” - Paul Nguyen, a mentor for one of The Preuss School UCSD FLL teams for the past two years. Once too impatient to teach to young students, he plans to continue to mentor, and now is too impatient to wait for the next FLL competition. To contribute to give students an outlet for them to express their interest in math and science, FLL members were allowed to participate in the FIRST Robotics building season. These younger students, known as “Mini-Midnight Mechanics” were given hands-on experience in planning, strategizing, building, and programming. Each Mini-Midnight Mechanics interned in a group that focuses on a certain aspect of the robot that they were interested in, such as arm/appendage, drive train, software, electrical, and even community outreach. This specialization will guide the Mini-Midnight Mechanics into a specific area of interest, which they can build upon or explore other aspects that will carry into their respective futures. The Mini-Midnight Mechanics are able to attend meetings during the building season and assist our team in building the robot. This allows them to further gain understanding and insight into the enriching experience of construction. Many find clarity in what they may want to become in the future- perhaps an engineer, a scientist, or a researcher. Few still find that they no longer want to pursue a career in the sciences, but still love and are fascinated with the technology, and continue


through the program. With this immersion into the FIRST Robotics world, it is not surprising to see self-evaluations and early introspective thoughts. We embrace them into our high school family, mentoring and encouraging their early interest in math and science. In addition, they also have special permission to join Team 812 in special events such as the Exposition, Kick Off, PickUp Game, Scrimmage, and Lock-in. This early experience and special privileges that Team 812 creates will enable them to widen and explore their interest and make more educated decisions about possible careers in math and science.


FIRST lego league

eam 812 is responsible for bringing the FIRST Lego League program to San Diego. In order to create an interest among the youth, we host an informal Annual San Diego County FIRST Lego League Competition at the Preuss School UCSD each November. The event was organized and coordinated completely by thirteen to seventeen year-old students on our team. With thirteen teams in attendance, the event reached to over a hundred students, each were ages seven to fourteen, and taught the understanding of concepts such as math, science, and gracious professionalism. In order to make such an event possible, as well as successful, Team 812 dedicated the majority of their time in the planning, managing, and development aspects of the event. Team members often stayed late at school until 10:00 P.M. in order to finalize the preparations for the event. Such devotion demonstrates a great amount of dedication to the cause, even after two months of constant coordination. The team was divided up into subgroups and each subgroup coordinated a certain aspect of the competition. The subgroups communicated with each other by documenting work and reporting, daily, to the PEMP, a student


1 - Teacher Walter Solomon with students 2 - Referees with team members


leader who acts as the liaison. Each veteran was partnered with a rookie team member to teach and to train these newly initiated members in the “event planning process”. This system worked very well and did not put all of the responsibilities in the care of the veterans. In addition, rookie team members were able to gain insight as to the proper etiquette of event planning and are knowledgeable to coordinate events, such as the San Diego County FIRST Lego League Regional, in the future. As a whole, Team 812 contributed time, energy, and great effort to brought together a completely student-ran competition. With a thoroughly structured team, the subgroups were able to manage the entire planning aspects from obtaining and maintaining the facilities, soliciting referees, judges, volunteers, fields, supplies, and all of the materials that were needed in order to run a successful competition. Team members arrived early the day of the event. While the event begins at one thirty in the afternoon, many team members arrived on campus at eight in the morning to help set up the field and organize the competition environment. The arena was prepared with this year’s theme: “Ocean Odyssey.” When the area was prepared, team members were delegated jobs, jobs in which they were expected to, and did, perform at the highest level of excellence. The jobs assigned included: refereeing, selling food, speaking with sponsors, presenting to local community members, leaders, and educators about the FIRST Robotics Program and our team.


When FIRST Lego League was first introduced to San Diego, the FIRST Lego League teams were working independently and did not know the benefits of collaboration. Because of our efforts, we were able to bring the San Diego, and neighborhood communities, FIRST Lego League teams together. Through the event, the teams have created strong, interpersonal relationships with one another and developed friends in which they are comfortable discussing game strategies, sharing ideas, and working together. Such strong support between the FIRST Lego League teams has never been seen before in the San Diego area. The event showed the community that engineering and technology can be exciting and interesting. With every local media station at the event, all of San Diego was able to learn more about FIRST Robotics, the Preuss School UCSD, Team 812, and our mission to bring math, science, and engineering to our underserved communities.

Emcee George Chen talks with teams


project RUBI


We serve as a research subject for the MPLab and the community outreach portion of their institution. Our involvement with RUBI allows us to work with the future UCSD Dynamic Learning Center [DLC], which is being implemented by the National Science Foundation. The DLC will

“the UCSD Dynamic Learning Center, involving investigators from fields as diverse as cognitive science, machine learning, robotics, developmental and perceptual psychology, and neuroscience. The administrative location of the center will be at the University of California, San Diego, but there will be substances participation from investigators at UCB, Brown, CMU, CU Boulder, Pitt, Rutger, the Salk Institute, Vanderbilt, Victoria, and Yale.” -National Science Foundation Grant “The broader impact of this proposal will be first,



he University of California, San Diego Machine Perception Laboratory [MPLab] solicited Team 812 to be a part of Project Robot Using Bayesian Inference [RUBI]. Project RUBI is a research project studying artificial intelligence through human and robot interaction. Project RUBI works with early child development centers and University of California students to conduct their research projects.

be an active research laboratory studying human learning and interaction. The DLC will become the epicenter of cognitive research in San Diego.


to develop novel training activities in order to make interdisciplinary research possible; second, to work with local schools on novel educational initiatives; and third, with new public outreach programs. 1) Unlike typical training programs, the training activities will be aimed at senior scientists as well as students and junior scientists; and they will involve a range of vehicles, including intensive “bootcamps,” internships, and summer (and winter) schools. Our group has considerable experience with interdisciplinary training programs, and we believe we are extremely well-situated to consolidate and build on this experience. 2) The public education part of this program will be aimed at intake. This will involve efforts at recruitment of new undergraduate and graduate students, with the particular goal of increasing the breadth and diversity of student population. We will directly involve students at the Preuss school, UCSD’s 6-12 charter school whose students are 72% underrepresented minorities, and 90% of their graduating seniors are attending 4 year colleges (22% will attend UCSD). A second part of the program will be aimed at outreach. This will involve summer internships for high school students; intensive workshops for approximately 80 inner-city high school students in the Reach for Tomorrow program each summer, and a summer workshop for high school science teachers. 3) The Center PIs are committed to science education and to the dissemination to the public, in a meaningful and relevant way, the fruits of our research. The Center will coordinate these activities with The Science Network, a visionary venture by a coalition of world-renowned scientists and media professionals to build a multimedia programming platform that will be a trusted destination for those concerned with science and its impact on society.” -National Science Foundation Grant We will be involved with their efforts to bring students into institutions of higher learning as part of their Reach for Tomorrow Program [RTP]. RTP provides internships, summer seminars,

and intensive training for inner-city high school students and science teachers. With RTP, the Midnight Mechanics prepare science teachers for the classroom and students for college. We act as the experiment group to launch the first mass science outreach project directed to inner-city schools. The UC Regents and the UC System commends our effort in bringing FIRST to San Diego. With these partnerships, we want to provide students in my community with the opportunities FIRST gave us.




ince its conception in the fall of 2001, Team 812 has been committed to changing the culture of our world by starting with the kids. Most Midnight Mechanics did not know the value of science and technology until joining the team, thus we are dedicated to providing children with all the tools they might need to succeed by exposing children to science and technology. Our mission is to bring science and technology to the youth, minorities, low income students, and girls, groups that compose our team, and give them the head start that we did not have in our under served schools. First started at our own school with tutoring and mentoring of middle school students, our efforts to expand our reach have spilled beyond the bounds of Preuss and to all over San Diego. FIRST Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth [BUDDY] was born out of these efforts. Since its conception early this season, we 1 - Reuben H. Fleet Science Center have reached to hundreds of youths through this 2 - Monarch School program by partnering up with Students Actively 3 - Preuss School UCSD Volunteering for You, Volunteer San Diego,




Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Public Libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Monarch School. We also peer mentor and hold community events, such as the UCSD Sally Ride Festival to instill in these students the seed of FIRST. Our efforts to change the community start with the youth. Generations later, perhaps some of the same students will remember us as the catalyst for changing their lives, and changing the community around them. That is what Team 812 wants to remembered for – change and progress – to be initialized by BUDDY.

students throughout San Diego County have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate leadership skills while meeting real community needs.


he Reuben H. Fleet Science Center seeks to inspire life-long learning by furthering the public’s understanding and enjoyment of science and technology. Preuss Robotics students are working with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in order to create a robotics program in their community education department. In addition, Preuss Robotics students volunteer weekly at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in order to instill an interest of math, science, and engineering among the youth. In addition to the Preuss Robotics students, more than 100 people currently volunteer at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Youth (15 and older) and adult volunteers work in every area of the museum. Volunteers greet visitors, staff the information booth, work behind the scenes doing essential daily jobs such as administrative work and filing, explain and demonstrate science in the exhibit halls and serve in a variety of ways at special events. You don’t need a science background to volunteer at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, just interest, enthusiasm and a desire to give back to the community. Volunteers who work in the exhibit halls, information booth, and as greeters must attend an information session and will receive training in the area in which they will work. Volunteers who work behind-the-scenes are trained on-the-job.


eam 812 works with Volunteer San Diego and Students Actively Volunteering for You to further our endeavor in integrating math, science, and engineering in the community VSD Volunteer San Diego [VSD] is a 501[c]3 nonprofit organization that helps individuals, families, and corporate and community groups find volunteer opportunities at more than 800 diverse service organizations and schools throughout the county. Our capacity building programs and services allow volunteers to work hand-in-hand with nonprofit agencies to develop strong and vibrant communities. Volunteer San Diego volunteers, now 36,000 strong, are at work every day of the year, building community and meeting critical needs by teaching children the joy of reading, beautifying our parks and beaches, preparing meals for our homebound neighbors, distributing food to low income families and learning what it means to create positive change. Last year, Volunteer San Diego volunteers contributed over 108,000 hours [or $2 million in people power] to make our community a better place to live, work and play. SAVY Students Actively Volunteering for You [SAVY], a program of Volunteer San Diego, has been empowering young people to make a difference in communities since 1984. Middle and high school


n a blunt fashion, Saturday Enrichment Academy is possibly described as a place for students on academic probation to receive help. This is false. Saturday Enrichment Academy [SEA] is a place offering academic assistance for students who are in need of help or on academic probation. However, SEA is not limited to students in need, but also for students who are experiencing difficulties in academic subjects or taking on-line


courses, such as On-Line English. On selected dates throughout the year, SEA is offered as an opportunity for students in need of academic assistance. Students who are required to attend the academy receive a notice beforehand while though who are interested in attending, simply sign up with a counselor and/or their University Preparatory teacher. At 7:35 AM, students who are traveling from the El Cajon area are picked up. The travel route stops at three other sites, all of which are epicenters of our student population. At approximately 9:00 AM, students arrive at the Preuss School and promptly go to their assigned rooms. Sixth through ninth grade students are admitted in C101 while tenth to twelfth grade students refer to C102. As the students enter the door, they receive their schedule for the day and begin immediately working on their assignments. At different time intervals, high school and middle school students are given a ten minute break from their studies. Students continue their work until 11:30 AM, when SEA ends. SEA is not only a place for academically challenge students but also for students volunteering. Students volunteer as tutors to assist their fellow classmates to a better understanding of the areas in which they find difficulty. This interaction creates a positive and comforting learning environment. “It is a great help to have students to mentor each other. This creates an elaborate learning environment” quotes Kelly Kovacic, who was Faculty present at SEA. Robotics has been frequently participating in Saturday Enrichment Academy. For the last few SEA meetings, FIRST Robotics have been a proactive group, mentoring and tutoring the middle school and high school students, primarily on the area of science and mathematics. “It is a nice habit,” quoted Paul Nguyen, eleventh grade. Volunteering and being an active part in ones community is a value nothing can overshadow. Robotics students are fortunate to have this

opportunity. FIRST Robotics students have the ability to educate their classmates and aid in developing them into accomplished individuals. The feedback Robotics received from the students was also positive. “It feels good to finally understand something and Robotics students helped me a lot” quoted Uyen Tran, seventh grade. Being proactive in the Preuss community allows FIRST Robotics students to contribute certain opportunities often times not offered in the classroom. “Anytime that there are peers helping peers, kids are more willing to learn than of they received help from an adult,” quoted Anne Artz, a Faculty present at SEA.


he San Diego Public Libraries [SDPL] recognize the Preuss FIRST Robotics program’s endeavor in reach inner-city children. The SDPL are dedicated in assisting the Preuss FIRST Robotics team in our endeavor and provides many outreach opportunities throughout the year in order for us to introduce engineering to children. However, on a weekly basis, the Preuss FIRST Robotics team participates in tutoring sessions at various libraries in San Diego. During these tutoring sessions, team members assist students struggling in math and science. It is a student-tostudent interaction. “It was wonderful,” said Antoinette Brou, “I walked into Beckworth Library with the understanding that I will be helping a group of children with their homework and projects and I walked out of that library as a changed person. I felt, older, for the lack of a better word. I felt more mature; it was as though I came of age with a better understanding and outlook of life and the world around me.” Antoinette explains her thoughts further when she discusses what it was that gave her a new “outlook” on life. “I sat down with the little boy, he could not have



been older than seven, and he surprised me. If I was someone walking down the street and glanced at this little kid, I would have never imagined that he was a first grader who could not add or subtract numbers. When I opened his notebook up, I saw recognized the reason why. He did not understand math because he didn’t pay attention in class. So instead of solving the problem with me just teaching him now to add simple numbers, I talked to him. We discuss why he didn’t pay attention. He told me that there were distractions which kept him from concentrating in class. I then felt as though I was looking into a mirror, whose reflection was of me many years ago. However, in the end, I did teach him what one plus one equaled and all that good stuff.” In short, Preuss Robotics students reaches out to children in our community; children whose lives, as shown, are not much different from our own. We come from similar financial conditions and experience similar struggles in school. However, Preuss Robotics students have experienced these adversaries and feel as though it is our responsibility to assist the next generation. Through peer mentorship, we assist them in their academic education and alleviate whatever struggles them have in life.

response from the students. The students submitted a torrent of questions, comments, and ideas for constructing a possible robot. Though we have not yet started the team, we are beginning to prepare them and give them all an opportunity to be a part of FIRST. We had an overwhelming interest of girls that found the FISRT Lego League program to be very “cute” and something they would like to do. In addition to bringing FIRST Lego League, we developed a curriculum for the local Boys and Girls Clubs to develop a computer literacy program for the students. Computer literacy is a crucial skill that is needed in high school, college, and vital in the business world. Starting from age five to age ten, students work with us to build basic computer skills. The curriculum consists of small interactive workshops, each an hour, on the basic operations for using Microsoft Office, proper Internet usage, and typing skills. In the typing skills workshops, we give students twenty minutes a session to practice their typing on “Typing Tutor.” We survey them in order to make sure that they are following the proper typing behaviors and encourage them constantly to keep them interested and motivated. In the Microsoft Office component, we run through training of the basics of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Power Point, teaching fundamental skills, such as text editing and presentation setups. We monitor their progress by giving weekly quizzes that requires them to change formats or add in various effects to their documents and slides. In the Internet usage component, we go through proper Internet usage, including searches and search engines. To tie all aspects of the training, students, in pairs, will put together a PowerPoint research presentation on a topic of their choice. This will show the value of the skills they are learning and give the kids a tangible outcome of their hard work. For older students, ages ten to fourteen, we are currently developing a curriculum to teach basic


orking with local San Diego Boys and Girls Clubs, Team 812 brought peer mentorship and built friendships with younger students. These children live in our communities and are, for the most part, underrepresented minorities who are unaware of the importance of math and science. We found that they were as excited as we were to collaborate and had a real interest for technology and engineering. By brining FIRST to local San Diego Boys and Girls Clubs, we were able to integrate others in the community into our team. Through a short video demonstration of the building process in FLL and a demonstration of the Preuss FLL team robot, we introduced FIRST Lego League to the Boys and Girls club. We had an immediate and tremendous

components of Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Excel and allow them to experience a more in depth look into PowerPoint and Word. Our goal is to expand whatever training they might already have and put it to use. Similar to the younger students, older students will complete small projects using the different tools of Microsoft Office. Team 812 students are given the opportunity to practice their computer skills and learn new ones as we collaborate with the local Boys and Girls Clubs. We are also spreading FIRST in our community by exposing students to the potential of technology and making brand-new friends in the process. In addition, we are equipping them with skills that we, alone, had to develop ourselves as younger children. As their mentors, their do not have to struggle through the process, for we are there with them each step of the way. Yen Phan, one of the Midnight Mechanics that has tutored at a Boys and Girls Club almost regularly, says, “Just last weekend, I was able to teach a student how to use Microsoft Word for the first time. She wrote her first five sentence paragraph for her homework assignment. I gained satisfaction when her mother, who I later found out never finished secondary school, approached me and thanked me for teaching her daughter the skills that she could not.” As many people are technologically-illiterate and would appreciate any help, without being looked down upon, we are at these Boys and Girls Clubs to lend any help. Midnight Mechanics members all are individuals who have overcome their personal trials, and can connect to these people on the same level. Difficulties that plague these young students, weathered beyond their years, many of us have also faced. Now that many careers demand these technical skills as basic requirements, Team 812 has found it important to impart such knowledge to the younger community that is not given the opportunity to learn.

When tutoring at these organizations, we appreciate our luck in being a part of the FIRST community, as well as a part of a school that nurture us to be successful. Any of the Team 812 members could have easily been at a Boys and Girls club, eager to learn Microsoft Word, and here we are, despite everything, changing perspectives, helping those that were not lucky enough to have these same opportunities. While our students learn these basic skills and anything useful we could possibly teach, we learn about these individuals. We welcome these same students into our Team 812 community, introduce them to the newlyopened prospects, and guide them to apply their latest skills. Then only can we feel satisfaction.


n February 12th, 2006, a group of female students from the Preuss FIRST Robotics team went to UCSD for the day to interact with female middle school students that are interested in math and science through the UCSD Sally Ride festival. At the UCSD Sally Ride Festival, Sally Ride made an inspirational speech regarding her struggles in a society that demeaned women in engineering and we were there to provide information at a booth and be presenters through workshops. Participants at the festival would sign up for our workshops and be able to stop by our booth. In addition to the Midnight Mechanics, other organizations, who were trying to inspire female middle school students, enhanced the experience for students through their hands-on activities stationed at their booths. We went to many of the booths, which were mainly businesses or professional organizations, to talk to them about becoming involved in FIRST and if they would like to attend the Annual San Diego Pick-Up Game the following weekend. Whether in FIRST Robotics, VEX, or FIRST Lego League, some of these organizations could become very influential in girls’ lives. At the booth, we answered questions, initiated conversations with parents and students, and passed out flyers to the Annual San Diego Pick-Up Game and team buttons. ANNUAL REPORT | 2006


The workshop we conducted, which was called “From Towers to Robots: If We can Build It, You Can Too!” introduced the female participants to the design method and FIRST Robotics. The workshop ran twice, with two different groups of girls. It was touching to see how other girls were so enthusiastic when we told them about the Annual San Diego Pick-Up Game next weekend. Our PowerPoint presentation also included an animation video of the current robotics game to introduce them to the idea of robotics. We also paralleled what the straw towers they were building with the robotics design process we went through. Some of them really seemed set on engineering, and many seemed interested even if they had originally pursued some other science, or not interested at all in robotics initially. Impact on the girls that attended our workshops or talked to us could never be measured numerically. When one sees the inspiration in their eyes, that is what confirms that we, mere high school students, affected their perception of math and science- that it is okay to show an interest in such subjects, in fact, encouraged. It is a marvelous change from a dominantlymale field, to one that girls are more involved in. Perhaps a decade or two from now, we will see one of the girls to go to Mars, another to develop a Nobel-Prize winning theory, or build robots that dramatically change disabled persons’ lifestyles, and exclaim, “I talked to her about math and science!” Our participation in this festival embodies our mission to change lives, change culture in our own backyard.

is an indispensable asset in changing the culture of the time by giving those that are least likely to succeed a chance. Despite all efforts, the students of the Monarch School still are “last in line” when educational opportunities are being provided. All coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Midnight Mechanics feel an overwhelming familiarity with this situation, and have a need to share our good fortune as FIRST participants with Monarch School students. We have begun to create an open network between the Preuss School and the Monarch School in which we wish to open a path of success for Monarch students by bringing FIRST. Composed of approximately a hundred students ranging from ages six to eighteen the Monarch School is the perfect environment for both Lego and VEX Robotics. To begin to interest younger students in robotics, we will establish a FLL team at the Monarch School. Getting the younger students started in FIRST create a basic foundation for possibly a future FRC team at the Monarch School. Mentored by the student Midnight Mechanics, Monarch students will receive the same title of Mini Mechanics that the FLL teams at Preuss receive. The collaboration between the Midnight Mechanics mentors and young Monarch students is meant to not only provide Monarch students with an FIRST veteran’s point of view, but a role model figure that faced many of the same struggles and still succeeded. VEX Robotics for older Monarch students, gives them the jump start into FIRST with out them having to deal with costly parts and machinery. The lesser cost of VEX is perfect for this small, blossoming school. We are working with UCSD to attempt to open the resources that the Midnight Mechanics have at UCSD to Monarch students so they can have access to college mentors, machining shops, funding, internships, and over all support. We are committed to give the Monarch School all the opportunities and aid that we have been lucky enough to receive.


he Monarch School located in Downtown, San Diego, offers homeless children and teens a place to receive a good education and a source to of acquiring basic necessities. The Monarch School takes the initiative to not only educate, but provide basic needs such as food, clothes, and hygiene tools as long as they are in school. This school funded by gracious donations

team san diego

eam 812 is the eldest team in San Diego and we have taken the leadership role to recruit more teams in the county. The Team San Diego Robotics Forum consists of a collection of ten teams from primarily the San Diego County area. This forum works together in an effort to bring the FIRST ideals to not only Southern California, but across the border as well. Schools and communities that were not positively exposed to math & science are now changed by the community created by our Team San Diego. Working together to change others’ perspectives of technology, Team San Diego has a mission to continue the Midnight Mechanics’ legacy of introducing FIRST to more schools and lives. Team San Diego works together to both host a variety of robotics events in the San Diego area and to support each other in the building of our robots. This web of collaboration between the teams enables both students and adults to work cooperatively towards a common goal.” -Paul Tran Team San Diego was formed in 2003 under the leadership of Team 812. Being the oldest team in the county, we took a prominent role in the formation and success of this coalition. Currently, Team San Diego


1 - Team San Diego Preship Pickup Game 2 & 3 - Team San Diego Regional Kickoff



is comprised of ten award winning FIRST teams. The teams work together in order to build a high regard for math and science in their under served communities. They collaborate on presentations and a series of events that are hosted. A strong bond that is created between all of the teams leads to a cooperative environment. Ideas and concerns are shared between the teams. Through this partnership, the teams have been able to succeed inside and outside of FIRST. Under our leadership, teams from the Team San Diego coalition have won the All-Star Rookie Award for three consecutive years at the Southern California Regional and last year at Arizona. Teams have also won the Las Vegas Regional, the Engineering Inspiration Regional Award, Safety Award, Daimler-Chrysler Team Spirit Award, Johnson and Johnson Sportsmanship Award, and the Perkins Entrepreneurship Award. Team 812, along with the Team San Diego coalition, is working with local businesses and community members to gain support for a new San Diego Regional in the near future. The success that the Team San Diego coalition is having in our community is immense.

mock competition and signs were being posted. Mr. Mainieri told me to help with any of the preparation needed for the event. Therefore, I followed the team members to put up signs. We placed the “Welcome” and “FIRST Robotics” signs, along with the “Arrows” around Madison High. Once the signs were up, we came back to Mr. Mainieri for any other jobs that were needed to be done. Mr. Mainieri stated that there would be sponsors coming to the event. Therefore, we needed people who were familiar with FIRST and Team San Diego to greet them, at the door, and welcome them into our program. Veterans took the job. They were responsible for delivering a presentation to the prospective sponsors about FIRST, Team San Diego, and our impact on the community. Being articulate, I was assigned to greet prospective FIRST Robotics members at the gate and show them to the Exposition. Then afterwards, when the amount of guests arriving started to die down, we went to the mock competition area and watched the robots perform. Being novice to the world of Robotics, I wanted to be able to experience its applications. So I asked Julian Hernandez and Thien Nguyen if I could have a try at attempting to drive the robot. They gave me their consent. The robot was not that difficult to maneuver. It took some time, and like everything else, you have to practice to become efficient at it. I was able to take a turn at driving the robot and moving the arm up and down. At the end of my trial, I had three tetras on the frame. It was an interesting experience because the robot would make sudden movements if you didn’t control the joystick or the handle on the arm would fall off. Minute issues that, I realize, in competition, could determine a victory or loss. Many of the teams had their robots out on the field. The people driving the robot did so with such skill and grace that it impelled me to practice even more so. The game was self explanatory.”


eam San Diego does active recruitment, rather than just showing off their robots. Team 812, among other teams, invite community members and prospective schools to be involved in FIRST and Team San Diego. The San Diego FIRST Exposition was established in order to educated prospective community members, leaders, educators, and students about the FIRST Robotics Program, Team San Diego, and integrating engineering education. The following is an account of the San Diego FIRST Exposition from a students perspective: “When we arrived at the San Diego FIRST Exposition, the team was still setting up. The playing field was being reconstructed for the


he San Diego FIRST Robotics Kick-off is the fruit of several years of recruiting teams and finding a secure location to keep the game veiled until the moment came. With the help of Team San Diego, but led by Team 812, the San Diego FIRST Robotics Kick-off became an official Kick-off on Saturday, January 7, 2006. On the campus of High Tech High, San Diego, teams from San Diego County congregated to discover what this years challenge would be. In addition to viewing the prerecorded broadcast, participants were invited to a series of brain storming activities and team building exercises lead by Team 812 student leaders. After receiving the kit of parts, we had a part cataloging session with team veterans leading. The session was designed to help rookie teams and interested individuals to become familiar with their kit of parts. Pre planning and strategizing has made all the difference for Team 812 in the past, and emphasizing that it is a crucial part of the design process was one of our main goals for the Kick-off. In small groups we began to think of what are the best strategies of attack and defense. As a larger group we decided on main goals that each robot would like to achieve. Veteran mentors gave an orientation to new and inexperienced mentors on what being part of a FRC team is like. Rule analysis of the new game, potential of Team San Diego, and further strategizing where also discussed.

The Kick- off serves as a first glimpse of FIRST for rookie teams and gives them the opportunity to have questions and concerns addressed. To involve potential schools in FIRST, we contacted and invited every school in San Diego and Orange County. Our dedication to spreading FIRST goes beyond.


eam San Diego, under the leadership of Team 812, hosted the Second Annual San Diego County Lock-in and Scrimmage. Approximately twenty teams from California, Arizona, and Nevada attended to compete in an informal post-season FIRST competition.

The day started with teams preparing up the playing field similar to those at the actual competitions. The event took placed at Madison High School. Many teams had arrived earlier the previous day to take part in our Annual San Diego County Lock-In event. At the Lock-In event, teams participating in the Scrimmage had the opportunity to socialize with other FIRST Robotics teams. Hosted at Madison High School, Team 812 members coordinated the event. Coordination includes the creation of signs, robot preparations, presentations and listing an inventory of available necessities [i.e. toiletries, sleeping bags, etc.] that are unavailable for our participants. Team 812 robotics members are responsible for the preparation of the competition environment. Preparation includes setting up the playing field for the competition. Entertainment included a LAN party in which
Pre-Ship Pickup Game



members could bring their own laptop, or use Madison’s school computer, to participate in “Counterstrike,” an online game. The members are able to use internet in that room only. While most members stayed up all night to participate in this event, others choose to participate in other forms of entertainment. Over all, the Lock-In established an atmosphere for team members to socialize with one another and/or develop interpersonal relationships with other FIRST teams. Many teams also arrived the day of the Scrimmage. Team 812 members began to organize and set up the area for the public, media, and community leaders. Decorations were prepared with inspirational quotes as well as informative signs. Food concessions containing salsa, chips, candy, soda, donuts, along with muffins, which were all donated by Team San Diego parents and members, were open to provide steady revenue for Team San Diego teams. The Scrimmage was similar to an actual competition. The Scrimmage consisted of practice rounds, qualifying rounds, alliance selections, and finals. Judges and referees were present to regulate the game. There was a room for any repairs needed to be done. Teams were able to share resources and states advices, showing the quintessence of gracious professionalism. During the battles music were played to entertain the guests and to lighten the mood. This friendly competition was a great way to bring closure to the season.

Veterans trained rookies that are newly initiated in the team. Training included teaching the rookie members the driving and arms and lifts components of the robot while other teams compete. They were able to experience the tension, pressure, and excitement that come with being on a multinational robotics competition team. Most importantly, the rookie members learn the collaboration skills and the art of communication. Not only was the Scrimmage is an opportunity for FIRST teams to show off their hard work, it was also a chance for the San Diego Community to experience a FIRST competition. Many members of the community were in attendance including science teachers visiting from Los Angeles area. The San Diego Community also had the chance to experience FIRST when many media outlets televised the competition and wrote about the event. “The Scrimmage was a great way for me to learn what Robotics is about. I feel the excitement and the feeling of being part of something great. By going to the Scrimmage I developed many new skills and a new level of comprehension.”-Melody Nguyen
Team 812 students help the Team San Diego events



specifically informative conferences, in which educates and advocates scholarship and internship programs. During these conferences Team 812 holds workshops on informing the community about the scholarship, how to fill out applications, alumni experience, and how to integrate engineering education and FIRST Robotics in inner-city high schools. Our involvement with scholarship and internship foundations is exemplary. Our partners are involved with every step of the coordination process. They speak at our conferences and support us by providing both financial and educational support. FIRST STEPS is supported by engineering corporations and community members. We have possible sponsorship from David Evans and Associates Inc., Grice, Lund and Tarkington Inc., and Kids Korps USA underway. Upon hearing about our FIRST STEPS program, they are very excited in becoming involved with FIRST Robotics, Team 812 and our endeavors in bringing math, science, and engineering into the community.

reuss FIRST Robotics students have witness our teammates, despite their situation, achieve their dreams. By reaching out to the next generation of Preuss students, they motivated us with their accomplishments and their stories. Our success as individuals today, is a direct result of their mentorship, gracious professionalism, and service. Now, being given access to a path towards success, we recognize that it is pivotal to reach out to children; children whose lives are not much different from our own. We provide our communities the resources that we were not fortunate to have access to when we were younger. As a result, these children do not have to face the struggles that Preuss Robotics students had to experience. The Midnight Mechanics initiated the FIRST STEPS [Students Together for Education and Promotion of Science] Program to matriculate students into a math, science, and engineering profession. Our team made partnerships with the University of California, San Diego, San Diego State University, University of California Education System COSMOS Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITES Program, NASA National Science Research Institute, Temple University Physician Scientist Training Program, John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, WPI Girls in Math and Science to make our program the first successful scholarship and internship program in the West. The FIRST STEPS program launches a mass outreach program targeted towards inner-city students. Team 812 coordinates community events,



executive summary

SEASON 2005-2006
Briefly describe the impact of the FIRST program on team participants: After participating in FIRST, team members pursue math and science within and beyond the classroom.70% of students enroll in a calculus class or higher and 100% are enrolled in an AP science course. They participate in programs like COMOS, MITES, and UCSD Medical and Science Internships. 80% of our alumni have chosen a math or science major. Preuss Robotics students share their success by being mentors their underserved communities and bringing others into FIRST. Examples of role model characteristics for other teams to emulate: Team 812 leads Team San Diego [TSD], a coalition of San Diego FIRST teams. As the founding team, we demonstrate leadership by providing training sessions, access to resources, monthly meetings, and assistance to TSD teams. We participated in outreach events, such as the UCSD Sally Ride Festival to inspire young women. We were honored for our work by receiving the All-Star Rookie Award, Judges Awards, Regional and Championship Engineering Inspiration Awards, and Regional Chairman’s Award.



From top: 1 - Team 812 at VSD We Care Fair presenting the relationship between art and robotics 2 - Programming team stares with awe at the robot


Describe the impact of the FIRST program on your team and community:


Because of FIRST, Preuss participates in Project Lead the Way, which provides an engineering curriculum. Students at our school are able to look into engineering as a possible career. Our FIRST STEPS Program matriculates students into math and science by educating them about scholarshipinternship opportunities. Our partnership with UC COSMOS, JHU CTY, MIT MITES, NASA NSBRI, PSTP, and WPI GEMS makes FIRST STEPS Program the first successful scholarshipinternship program in the West.

community by provide the team financial support. The UCSD Machine Perception Lab solicited us to work with RUBI, a project studying artificial intelligence. They provide mentors who aid the team with valuable knowledge and experience while gaining fresh input.




Describe the strength of your partnership: Our team has developed a strong partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, General Motors, Northrop Grumman, the Preuss Foundation, Qualcomm, the San Diego County Fair, and SPAWAR. Our sponsors become involved with the

From top: 1 - Team 812 presentes FIRST Robotics to prospective supportors 2 - Team 812’s innovative sign depicting the discipline “Robots and Art”


Team’s innovative methods to spread the FIRST message: Our team completed over 3,000 hours of community outreach projects. Our FIRST BUDDY Program, partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Sally Ride, San Diego Public Libraries, SAVY, SEA, UCSD, and VSD, addresses the need for peer mentorship. We started VEX teams with the Monarch School, a school for homeless teenagers. We communicate our program through our webpage and newsletters. Our mission is to help disadvantaged students in our community while spreading FIRST.

Team’s communication and result: Our team consists of subgroups, each with an officer, which communicate and complete tasks efficiently. In addition, we have implemented a FIRST Robotics class into the Preuss curriculum. This class allows team time during school to work on FIRST related assignments. Through weekly meetings, online documentation, journals, record sheets, list serves, websites, forums, and newsletters, our team establishes an exemplary communication environment.

judges, if any: The Preuss School UCSD is a 6 – 12 grade charter school for low-income, first generation university bound students. Preuss students travel up to four hours a day to have access to the rigorous college preparatory program and compulsory AP courses that Preuss provides. Because of FIRST, every student has the opportunity to take multiples classes in robotics in engineering. 100% of FIRST graduates attend a 4 yr university in comparison to the district average of about 35%.


Other matters of interests to the FIRST


chairman’s award



our months ago, I sent off my last college application. Standing in front of the post office, I recalled I was the child who was not supposed to go to college; the latch-key kid who called the inner-city my home. FIRST has guided me through the path of success to where I stand today. With my college acceptance letters in hand, I have surpassed society’s expectations. I have become the catalyst for change in my community. Though I am just one member of Team 812, the legacy of the Midnight Mechanics is embodied in those who have gone through the program. We strive for a common goal: showing the potential of math and science in our community through peer mentorship. We are ‘kids teaching kids.’ The Preuss School UCSD is a 6 – 12 grade charter school for low-income, first generation university bound students. We are students that need an extra helping hand. FIRST Robotics enhanced the Preuss experience with academic and social opportunities that are rarely available in our underserved communities. FIRST gave us the opportunity to explore math and science within and beyond the classroom by teaching the importance of business, mentorship, community outreach, and gracious professionalism. 100% of FIRST alumni are attending a four year university, three times as many as the San Diego district average.
From top: 1 - Summer Puente and Vu Hong work on electronics 2 - Team 812 receives their kit of parts at the Team San Diego Kickoff 3 - Students work with mentors on the drive train

The Midnight Mechanics lobbied for school-wide engineering education. Now every student at Preuss will take at least one course in engineering or robotics by graduation day. Because of FIRST,


*Out of one sitting

Statewide San Diego County Preuss School

US History Spanish Lit








Spanish Lang European His English Lang


Art History
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80


Class of 2002-2003




20% 43.6% 20% 16.4%
Data from: California Department of Education CREATE, UCSD

University of California Community Colleges California State University Private Colleges

our team members now understand what engineering is. As a result, we can make educated, thoughtful decisions about whether engineering is what that we want to do. The new FIRST Robotics class teaches us project management skills that are not taught anywhere else. With our knowledge we make Team 812 a student run business. To keep members up-to-date, we communicate through online documentation, journals, and record sheets. Our PEMP [Pneumatics, Electrical, Mechanical, Programming], a student leader, is a liaison for our subgroups. Qualcomm sees our team as a model of a successful engineering corporation, and is “grateful for the opportunity to further the goals of the FIRST Robotics team at Preuss.” Our team’s success prompted us to pioneer FIRST in San Diego. We helped to establish all ten of the San Diego teams and lead the Team San Diego coalition. Team San Diego teams benefit from each other by sharing resources and assistance. We offer

training sessions on the building and outreach aspects of FIRST. Working together, we plan several events to bring FIRST to the spotlight. We recruit for the new season by introducing FIRST at the San Diego Exposition, an informational session for rookies. The San Diego Kick-Off starts the building season with a broadcast of the new game and a brainstorming session. The Annual Team San Diego Pick-Up Game, a pre-ship competition, gives students, public, and local media the experience of an actual competition. The San Diego Robotics Lock-In and Scrimmage wraps up the season with teams from California, Arizona, and Nevada. Team San Diego events have made FIRST participation county-wide. Though we are opponents on the field, we know the benefits of collaboration and gracious professionalism. Under our mentorship, San Diego teams have won All-Star-Rookie awards every year. This year we have gone beyond San Diego and added an El Centro team in Imperial County. Our ultimate effort with Team San Diego is to bring a regional to the San Diego area. San Diego Union Tribune says, “Preuss School is trying



to spread the gospel of robotics to other high schools so a regional division of 20 teams can be established in San Diego County.” Our effort has allowed thousands of individuals in the San Diego and surrounding areas experience FIRST. Our influential participation with FIRST has brought mentorship from FIRST alumni at UCSD and involvement in projects on campus. The UCSD Machine Perception Laboratory [MPLab] supports our team with facilities and mentors. MPLab requested our help with Project RUBI [Robot Using Bayesian Inference], a research project studying artificial intelligence through child/robot interaction. Our students not only build parts for RUBI, including a chassis, but also provide input for the project. Our work with RUBI connects us with the future UCSD Dynamic Learning Center [DLC], an active research laboratory studying human learning. We are vital in their efforts to bring students into institutions of higher learning as part of their Reach for Tomorrow Program which provides internships, summer seminars, and intensive training for inner-city high school

students and science teachers to prepare for the classroom and college. We are the experiment group to launch the first mass science outreach project directed to inner-city schools. Project RUBI Opportunities like DLC, made available through FIRST, have given us the tools to impact our community the way FIRST impacted us. The Midnight Mechanics know how difficult it is to succeed without the adequate resources. We have spent over 3,000 hours bringing FIRST and its ideals to our communities. Our team has seen that peer mentoring is extremely successful, and in response established FIRST BUDDY [Building Understanding and Determination in Developing


Asian White African American Latino Filipino Pacific Islander



Rose Cao and Kyle Norquist mentor one of the two Preuss FLL teams.

Now composing more than half of our team, girls on our team have had to overcome one of the biggest barriers in engineering: gender. To encourage the next generation of female engineers, girls from our team shared their experience of FIRST Robotics with hundreds of middle school girls at the UCSD Sally Ride Festival. Through a workshop on engineering, “From Towers to Robots: If We Can Build It You Can Too,” participants worked through the engineering


Youth], where Midnight Mechanics: Making links across the country we aid students in underserved neighborhoods by providing resources and mentorship. WPI GEMS We spend 15 hours MIT MITES a week tutoring Stanford Temple PSTP struggling math and JHU CTY science students UC COSMOS at San Diego Public Libraries and Saturday Enrichment Academy. With the Boys and Girls NASA NSBRI Clubs, we work with children as Team 812 young as six years old, teaching computer skills for Microsoft Mentored Teams Office and Internet Explorer needed FIRST to homeless children. By participating in in school. We the VEX program, students from the Monarch teach the importance of technology by bringing School will discover science and technology by it to them at an early age and give them the going through the design process. Our goal is to technological advantage we never had. make our resources such as mentors, internships and science programs, freely available to the Reaching out to individuals that would be the Monarch School and eventually welcome them into least likely to engage in math, science, and technology, we have partnered with the Team San Diego with a FRC team. Students at the Monarch School to bring Monarch School know how to overcome barriers and working with the Midnight Mechanics we will overcome them together.

design process by building a tower of tape and straws. The girls gained an insight to FIRST Robotics as our team discussed how being part of FIRST has impacted our lives. MIDNIGHT MECHANICS | FIRST TEAM 812 We have supported budding FRC participants by mentoring two FIRST Lego League teams, the Mini Mechanics, at Preuss for the past four years. Community members and engineering companies such as SPAWAR and Scripps Institute came to congratulate the thirteen teams that participated in this year’s Annual San Diego FLL Competition ran by our team. We focused on promoting gracious professionalism amongst FLL participants through demonstrations throughout the day. We invited every elementary school in San Diego county to attend and learn about FLL. In our efforts to make science activities more accessible to students all over San Diego, Team 812 implemented FIRST STEPS [Students Together for Education and Promotion of Science] to involve students in science summer programs. Our partnership with UC

COSMOS, MIT MITES, NASA NSBRI, Temple University PSTP, JHU CTY, and WPI GEMS will make us the first successful outreach program that allows for more individuals to look at a future in math and science. For those that hold a negative outlook on math and science, we improve perceptions of science and technology by presenting them in a new light. Through Students Actively Volunteering for You [SAVY] and Volunteer San Diego we access events such as the San Diego We Care Fair. Our team presented engineering as a versatile subject, demonstrating the role that technology plays in art. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, team members are involved in interactive science education. As information ambassadors at the science center, we guide the younger visitors with hands-on science activities. We have had such a success that the science center is working with us to institute a robotics education program. We even bring FIRST to day-care centers by teaching children how to construct Lego robots. Our Tech Training Program will involve teaching students how to build computers and have them teach others in the community. Making science and technology available to everyone allows us to ultimately spread FIRST.

The 2005-2006 Preuss Robotics team at the Team San Diego Kickoff

Coming into the FIRST program, with little more than a dream, we have been given access to a path towards success. We understand the pivotal importance of sharing FIRST with other students like us. I am proud to be part of a team whose legacy lives in my community. Because of FIRST, I hold my college acceptance letter in hand. I have risen above the expectations of society. I have witnessed FIRST transform lives as I helped other kids like me on their way to college. I know that it has impacted their lives as it has influenced mine. With my 812 shirt in my luggage and memories in my heart, I will continue our legacy of success in college.





Mentored Teams (2)


National Science Foundation




Lock In Off-Season Competition Robotics Expo Kickoff Event Preship Pick up Game Regional Organization Team Support New Team Expo Mentoring

San Diego Public Libraries MPLab
Machine Perception Lab

Tutoring -SEA -Math -Science Fundraising Potluck Project Lead the Way

Physician Scientist Training Program

Saturday Enrichment Academy

-Dynamic Learning Center -Reach for Tomorrow Cal(IT)2 Mentors

At Home Tutoring SAVY NSBRI

Students Actively Volunteering National Science Biomedical Research Institute for You

Volunteer San Diego We Care Fair Community Events Sally Ride Computer Building Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Principal’s Reception

Preuss Foundation

We cordially invite you to

Date and location TBA


SEA-Saturday Enrichment Academy


FIRST BUDDY- Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth FIRST STEPS- Students Together for Education and Promotion of Science

SAVY- Students Actively Volunteering for You VSD- Volunteer San Diego PSTP- Physician Scientist Training Program NASA NSBRI- National Science Biometrical Research Institute MP Lab- Machine Perception Laboratory RUBI-Robot Using Bayesian Interface NSF- Nation Science Foundation DLC- Dynamic Learning Center WPI GEMS- Worcester Polytechnic Institute Girls in Engineering, Math and Science JH CTY- John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth MIT MITES- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science



midnight mechanics



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