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03 07 09 11 12 13 14 16 20 22 26 27 Team History Our Students Our Mentors Team Demographics Team Accomplishments Impact On Students The Preuss School Our Robot Our Sponsors FIRST Lego League FIRST VEX Robotics Community Outreach

Team History


Season: Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics, began at the Preuss School UCSD as the first San Diego FIRST team. Supported by 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 team in the rigorous FIRST environment. As a beginning team, the group faced many challenges along their journey. Without the aid of a machine shop, the team had struggled to construct a robot competitive enough to withstand the competition. Despite the challenges 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 Los Angeles Southern California Regional Competition, Team 812 earned the All-Star Rookie Award.


Season: Team 812 returned in their sophomore season in an attempt to further spread the message of FIRST and recruit more teams in the San Diego community. The team 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 helped start three new FIRST 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 fundamental engineering principles. At the Southern California Regional, Team 812 received Daimler-Chrysler Team Spirit Award,


Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics, was the founding team in San Diego. We started in the fall of 2001 at the Preuss School. Now, we have grown to include over twelve sponsors, thirty mentors, and the entire Southern California community.

Team 812 was very enthusiastic to kick off the 2007 FIRST Robotics Competition: Rack N’ Roll.

“Team 812 has grown from being the child of the inner-city, to kids teaching kids, and, now, you are something beyond what words can express.” -- Allison Liewer
and, at the Arizona Regional, the team was received the Judges Award.

and being with them every step of the way. In partnership with Madison High School 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 learned 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 earned us the Engineering Inspiration Award. The team went on to compete in the National FIRST Robotics Competition in Atlanta where we received the national Engineering Inspiration Award.



Season: In 2003, the Midnight Mechanics had to hit the floor running. The team was very busy. With months of planning, Team 812 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 also started two FLL teams in order to further spread the message of FIRST in our school. We also mentored other FLL teams in San Diego. Team 812 founded Team San Diego, a coalition of all San Diego Robotics Teams. The mission of TSD is to provide assistance, support, and communication for all FRC teams in the San Diego area. Team 812 has demonstrated the fact that they are the leaders of the San Diego coalition, supplying the San Diego teams with mentors and partnerships. The team had helped others begin their journeys as a part of FIRST, teaching fundamentals of engineering


Season: Upon our return in the fall of 2004, Team 812 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 (California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology) to design and implement a college level engineering course, MAE3,

for Preuss School students. The program was designed 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 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. 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 community outreach events that distributed the message of FIRST and made the Midnight Mechanics a 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 work and determination as the Los Angeles Regional Chairman’s Award winner.

still their knowledge and skills into the novices. Team 812 created the FIRST BUDDY [Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth] program. BUDDY is a program in which Team 812 plays in active role in the community through educational assistance. Our Chairman’s group built partnerships with the Preuss School 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 created FIRST STEPS [Students Together for Education and Promotion of Science] Program which built 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 and science. Team 812 holds conferences and events to promote these programs. The conferences are designed to teach students the process of application, provide alumni experience, and instill



Season: With many team members leaving for college, Team 812 had many rookies join the team. Veterans worked diligently to in-

the message of FIRST. In addition, to continuing our annual expositions and FLL competitions, the team endeavored to bridge new relationships with local San Diego businesses and organizations. Team 812 partnered with the University of California San Diego RUBI Project which is an endeavor in the interactions between children and robots. The team continued our partnership with the Preuss School UCSD, SPAWAR, Machine Perception Laboratories at UCSD, General Motors, the Annenberg Foundation, and the San Diego County Fair.


Season: The 2006 season has proved to be Team 812’s most daunting challenge yet. Having lost a central mentor figure and many former team members as well, the team, in its sixth year of FIRST Robotics, has had to have built themselves up once again as strong, competitive FIRST Robotics team unit. The students themselves have had to take on stronger leadership roles within the team, and build themselves as a student-run team. With a large number of core members readying themselves to go on to higher education, the team has been making the extra effort to impress upon rookie members the knowledge and skill to uphold the excellence our team holds to standard.

This year the team has made it a point to take the extra step in spreading the message of FIRST. In addition to multiple presentations, scholarship and tutorial programs, and partnerships with business and political leaders, Team 812 has piloted educational outreach on the international level. Paired with the International Humanities Foundation [IHF], team 812 has adopted a classroom in both Indonesia and Kenya, raising money to fund them an education in the core subjects as well as computer literacy. The team members advise and communicate with these kids in hopes of encouraging them to become academically eligible to attend college in the United States. Going beyond writing letters and sending regional invitations, Team 812 is working with our state representatives to institute FIRST in every high school in California. They brought our mission to the attention of US Congress and placed a statement of our accomplishments into the permanent Congressional Record. Team 812 has exceeded beyond what is regularly expected of a regular FIRST Robotics team. We have engaged our local, national, and global community in math, science, and engineering. Our impact can be seen in our community; in the kids we mentor, the companies we work with, and lives we ultimately change.

This year, Team 812 welcomed in 40 veterans and rookie members.

“After all I’ve been through, it makes me extremely proud to know that I am finally being able to do something truly meaning ful with my life” -- Rose Cao

Making History
“I am just a small-town girl. But FIRST has helped me become more than I really am, and, overall, more than I ever thought that I could be. -- Summer Puente SUMMER PUENTE
Being the Robotics President for my senior year, I felt compelled to reach out in more innovative ways. We also organized new scholarships and internships with University of California, San Diego and the University of San Diego that are available to students who participate in FIRST Robotics. The newest project is sponsoring classrooms in Indonesia to learn English and to have computer technology. Not only does our team raise funds for competitions, but we are also to raise funds for students to learn on the other side of the world. This is why I wanted to be a leader; I knew that our team was capable of affecting more than ourselves, our school, and our communities. I knew that we had the passion and drive to reach out further, to give more kids a chance at a better life. I have let my life be willingly consumed by my team; it is intoxicating and amazing to see the changes that we made, even if it is only in one life at a time. This experience, being the leader of the very first, FIRST team in San Diego, and watching the interest grow out of control, continues to make me feel the warmest feeling from the bottom of my heart. My goals are to see robotics spread throughout the country, and throughout the world. Although these goals seem lofty, the program is truly amazing, and my ultimate wish would be to continue to be a part of this experience for the rest of my life.


When I introduce myself as a foster child, I automatically get labeled as a person who will not get very far in life. In all of the foster homes that I have lived in, I never had a role model to tell me right from wrong. I have been forced to act twice my age since I turned ten. People do not to realize that I am a self motivated young woman who will have a successful future. I have taken advantage of the opportunities givOur students come from every walk of life. Regardless, at the end of the day we all come togather and work towards a common goal: to show the application of and math and science.

Mentor Scott Briscoe helps students develop a robot arm for this year’s robot.

After the outdoor barbeque, Catalina Santos is getting her hands dirty making the robot ramp at an infamous Welding Weekend.

“I have learned how to have confidence and courage in myself and to ignore the stereotypes of foster children.” --Catalina Santos
en from being a student at the Preuss School, and a new member of the FIRST Robotics team. I now know what education can accomplish and I can, and will, prevail at anything if I work hard. Although I am a rookie member of the FIRST Robotics team, I was entrusted with the top leadership position in the San Diego Lego Challenge, the main FIRST Lego League event our team hosts every year at our school. With the help of a veteran member, I was in charge of twenty other members to make sure they did what was needed for the competition to be the best one we have ever had. I have learned how to have confidence and courage in myself and to ignore the stereotypes of foster children. I know that I am an exception and not the rule. I am Catalina Santos. I am a model of the successful young woman.

its drive-by shooting, theft, and violence. My mother is a single parent and I am a full-time student at the Preuss School UCSD. Every morning I commute an hour an a half to school. I am at school for ten hours each day. On weekends, I can be found in a classroom building robots or mentoring students. That is my life; the life that I chose to live. Preuss epitomizes my dream to escape from the inner-city. I feel that, through Preuss, I am able to better myself and potentially be able to provide for my family; for my mother. I grew up as a child who was not supposed to succeed or go to college because I came from a poor uneducated family. Preuss gives me the knowledge and confidence to challenge such prejudices; to rise above expectations. FIRST is a significant part of my educational career. It helped me grow so much as an individual. FIRST has not only exposed me to math, science, and technology beyond what is offered in the classroom, but gave me the courage to open my eyes and see my world for what it truly is: a world of people in need of a helping hand. Without reservation, I have opened my eyes and, regardless of my circumstances, I am not ashamed of my life.


I grew up with my eyes closed. That was what my society told me to do. Coming from a community held up by ridiculous biases, there was not much that I could do to oppose it. I reside in City Heights, an area infamous for

Inspiring Inspiration
GEORGE CHEN It may seem weird to say that I am writing this reflection of sorts while at a basketball game, but take that fact as it is. The only reason that I mention this unusual writing spot is to note that as a robotics mentor, I am far from normal, and I have the pleasure of mentoring a most unusual FIRST team. I’ve been with FIRST for six years now – not out of sheer dumb luck, or because I’ve been too lazy to get out – but because I believe in FIRST. I’ve been around to see how FIRST excites students about science and technology. I’ve been around to see inner city kids go to Harvard and MIT because of their FIRST involvement. I’ve been around to see kids light up with every success and learn from every loss. When people ask me why I’m still involved, my answer is simple; FIRST works. I don’t volunteer my time because I need the community service hours, and I certainly don’t get any money out of it. I’m here because the program inspires kids to go beyond what’s expected of them. What is it that makes team 812 so unusual? These are kids who otherwise wouldn’t have gone to college. They are minority kids who will be the first generation of their families to go to college. They do countless hours of community service and have outreach programs everywhere. And while that is all well and good, it is their self motivation that inspires me. In my two years as a mentor on the team, I have never had to tell anyone to get on task or to find something to do. These are students who willingly take up jobs on their own to help the team. These are students who will come to me when they’re done and ask for another job, and will keep nagging me until I find something for them to do. And it is always impossible to get


At the Annual FIRST Robotics Kick Off at High Tech High San Diego, Team 812 discusses possible robot building strategies.

Dan Rupert, Advisor, displays his brilliant admiration for the team by painting his face. In addition, Juliana Biersbach, Advisor, explains the new competition to student, Melody Nguyen, who was confused by the ramp component.

Mentor, Scott Briscoe, helps Thien Nguyen and Summer Punete with the chassis. Our mentors guide us throughout the process and building and, in return, we offer them fresh new ideas to age old conepts.

“Team 812 were kids who were not supposed to change the world. But they did. They surely did. I am glad to be an Advisor to such an amazing team.” -- Juliana Biersbach
them to clean up on time. So what is a Human Biology student doing teaching engineering? I’m involved to tell students that even if engineering isn’t for you, FIRST can help you reach your academic goals. Whether or not a student goes into engineering has become less of an issue for me – if being a part of the team can help someone find their passion for a career, that’s all that matters. This team has a proven track record; all of its alumni have gone on to four year colleges, in everything from literature to mechanical engineering. And while this may not be entirely attributed to FIRST, the lessons of gracious professionalism and the real life challenges presented provide invaluable experience that sets the team alumni ahead of the curve when they leave for college. Someone once said, “FIRST is the only sort of competition I’ve seen where somebody can win and the opponents can be genuinely happy for them.” It’s what makes FIRST an unusual sport to be in and why mentoring it gives me hope for the future in science and technology.

I’m proud of what this team has accomplished already; I can only hope that they never stop trying to go even further.


“As a parent, I am proud to have my children being participants of the FIRST Robotics Program. From my eldest son to my youngest daughter, I have seen them grow as individuals, students, and citizens of our nation. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with such a program and represent the Preuss PTA in doing do.” -- Mahjabeen Usman


Team Demographics
Preuss Enrollment by Race, 2002-03 San Diego Unified Enrollment by Race, 2002-03

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 life 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. Team 812 believes that academic achievement is the key to a successful future. We endeavor 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.

Asian White

African American Latino

Filipino Pacific Islander

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

*Out of one sitting

Statewide San Diego County Preuss School








Team Accomplishments
“At the 2004 FIRST National ChampiJUDGES’ STATEMENT 2005 Southern California Regional onships, I fell out of my seat when I heard Woodie Flowers announced, “and the Na“This team has dedicated thousands of hours to tional Engineering Inspiration Award goes to the Preuss School UCSD!” It was an serving its community and surrounding area. This includes mentoring multiple successful FIRST honor for FIRST to recognize us because teams, guiding each from the start, staying with this award was traditionally given to a them until they develop into sustaining teams regional Chairman’s Award winner.” on their own. They have supported Lego League --Christopher Khavarian teams ever since the teams first year of operation 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


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.”

Southern California Regional “Over the past six years, the judges have watched this team grow from one without a machine shop in its rookie year to the founder of a coalition of local schools two years later to a team with a mission of educating young children this year. This team’s student presenters spoke enthusiastically of their mission of changing the educational culture of the city of San Diego. The Southern California Regional Chairman’s Award goes to Kids Teaching Kids, Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics from the Preuss School UCSD in San Diego.”

Team 812 wins the Chairman’s Award at the Southern California Regional in 2006.


Impact on Students
presence and inspiration to younger students. 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. The result of these programs is more students involved at The Preuss School UCSD with mathematics-based activities. Since its conception, these changes have dramatically affected The Preuss School UCSD and its students. Along with influencing career 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 sciencerelated activities on and off 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.

or students wanting to be involved with engineering, we offer the Botball, Introduction to Engineering, and Principles of Engineering classes. As a small school, it is difficult to implement many elective classes; to offer to have three 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 these design projects actually become products that are made by the students, to provide an insight into their ideas and goals. As a grade six through twelve institution, we also extend our influences into the middle school. We have started 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


The Mini Mechanics shadow veteran team members and participate in Vex and FLL competitions.

FIRST impacts all students at the Preuss School. Students, from the sixth grade to twelfth grade, are exposed to math and science opportunities. These opportunities, FLL, Vex, Botball, and FIRST, opens new doors for them.

The Preuss School
“Conceived from the era of Affirmative Action, Preuss offers high quality education for kids who would not have otherwise been able to make it.” -- Cecil Lytle, UCSD Provost
UCSD research into educational practices looks 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


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. 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

It was not that long ago when the Preuss School emerged out of the side of Marshall College on the campus of UCSD. Now, years later, with an amazing campus of its own, the Preuss School is a proud home to 773 students.

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 “A-G” 100% San Diego Unified 38.5% Statewide 35.6%

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 SDUSD 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.


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. 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

“Students at the Preuss School are testaments that underserved, underrepresented, and underprivledged youth have the potential to succeed; regardless of what their community accepts as true. Helping our students do just that, is the mission of the Preuss School.” -- Doris Alvarez Ph.D, Principal

Robot: Arm


he goal of the arm is to latch onto game pieces and place them on the bottom tier of the Rack. There is a mobile and a stationary gripper on the arm. When the grippers are close, they are placed on the inside of a gamepiece, then it opens up to the diameter of the “donut-hole” to grab the gamepiece. The arm is powered with a DC motor on which a sprocket was attached. Chains run from the sprocket to move a large gear. A bar attached to the gear is also attached to the mobile gripper. The frame of the arm consists of two parallel hollow metal with a slit cut down the middle where the grippers are placed. The arm is short enough to have fit inside the enclosed ramp “tent”. On the final week of the Building Season, the team found that we were about twenty pounds overweight. The arm was unfortunately scraped in an attempt to put the robot on a “diet”. Now our robot, a ramp-based robot, consists of a ramp and platform. Taking a defensive and assistive approach, Team 812 will be on defense during the autonomous mode and remaining portion of the match. We understand the importance of, not only score points, but also preventing the other alliance from scoring points.
Although our initial goal was the build a working robotics arm, we have developed into a team which is taking a derfenseive appraoch.

At the end of our match, our robot will park itself on our end of the playing field. It will deploy its ramp, which is structured like a “tent”. Also, gravity and the aid of a small arm will cause our platform to fall out, creating a “double-ramp”. This component of the robot will score a plethora of points at the end of the match. With the capacity of lift other robots twelve inches off of the ground, our team is anticipating towards being a crucial aspect to future alliances. The ramp consists of metal parts welded together to form a frame-like structure. The frame supports an inner support layer that is mainly comprised of a foam material that is strong enough to support more than one 120-pound robots. Although we were once overweight, we were able to trim ourselves down to the appropriate scale. Being able to face and overcome such challenges has helped our team developed into, not only trained mechanics and engineers, but brilliant problem solvers and collaborators.


“As a senior member of the team, my challenge is not just to build a functioning robot, it is to train future generations of FIRST Robotics students in the craft of building a working robot and have all of its individual components be able to stand on their own and work properly. My goal for this year is to teach each student what I have learned, both within and beyond the area of engineering. I want to instill in them the character and discipline that FIRST has instilled in me.” -- Thien Nguyen

Robot: Drive Train


he drive train is composed of a six-wheel drive system. It is currently running on four CIM motors provided by the FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology] Robotics program. In the beginning of the build season it was designed to run with four CIM motors attached to a 2 motor attachment gear box. Although after a long debate over our excess weigh, we decided to remove to motors. The motors are mounted to a plate, and that plate is mounted at one end of the robot. The six wheels on the chassis are all operated by 2 motors. From the motor to each wheel, there are sprockets that make our robot run as a six wheels drive. From each sprocket, there is chain that connects that drive systems to the wheels. The center two wheels have treads to give the robot more friction against the floor, and also to raise the robot, so when the robot needs to turn, there

is less contact with the front and back wheels. The result is to have the robot turn in a quick and smooth manner that will allow the driver to maneuver the robot on the field easily. Since our robot has all six wheels running at the same time, no matter if our robot rocks forward or back ward, it still has the same speed. At the front and back support bars of the robot is chamfered corner in order to allow our robot to approach other ramp robots without having any trouble running up our alliance members.

“For the past two years, I have felt proud of the drive train system because we have come so far as a team. Our rookies, for example, have stepped up as leaders to learn how to build (robots), and produce CAD designs.” -- Paul Nguyen


Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder, wanted to create an environment where the youth not only aspired to pursue careers in the mainstream industries but appreciated math and science as well.

Across the years, the drive train component of the robot continues to improve. With dedicated veteran members who guided new members throughout the entire build process, the drive train was the first in which completed the task successfully before the shipping.

Robot: Electrical
“The Electrical Component of the robot is amazing! In my sophomore year, when I first become a part of FIRST, I did not have a grand appreciation for Electrical. I was a mechanic. I worked on the Drive Train, Programming, all that good stuff. But after an internship with SeaBotix, a robotics engineering company, where I had to get my hands dirty with wires and electrical boards all day, I become fascinated with the way things work electronically. As a second-year member of the Electrical Subgroup, I want to teach new members the essentially of the electrical side of the robot. In doing so, I want to raise the next generation of electrical engineers, like myself.” -- Summer Puente OFFICER: SUMMER PUENTE
it is easy to rearrange to fit more efficiently around the other parts of our robot. Additionally, we had various mentors assisting the team members, all of whom believed that their way was the best way. We discovered that compromises had to be met, or it would never be finished. Once we had a tentative layout established, we began to cut, strip, and solder wires and various connections on the electrical board. This is a wonderful opportunity to get rookies immediately involved with the robot building. Since it is easy to teach someone with no experience how to read the distribution schematic and to do the basic electrical requirements, this was a place where rookies were readily accepted to work without a mentor or veteran member hovering or criticizing. I know that our electrical board is not the prettiest that you will see on the field, but many members of Team 812 had a hand in creating it—which I think is the most important factor. Much of our team can proudly show off the work they did to help the electrical group, and indeed, much of our team can proudly describe what each component does [since we had to redo it so much!] In fact, the last day before ship, the electrical components underwent another transformation, and perhaps even at competition, you will see Team 812 readjusting its’ electrical board. We do not harbor any shame at constantly making changes to our robot; we know that we can always improve. Besides, if we had nothing to do in the pit, we would be bored out of our minds! It can be beneficial to be less than perfect.



his 2007 build season, we faced some of the same electrical difficulties that we faced last year. The main problem that seemed to never stop coming up was changing the layout of our electrical board. Ultimately, I lost track of how many times the setup was changed. The reason for altering our initial design was due to the mechanical components of the robot changing, thus causing the shift of the electrical components. Fortunately,
With mentors from Cal[IT]2, Team 812 is honored to have a dedicated group of individuals who are going out of their way to make the electrical component of our robot a success.

“As a part of the Electrical Subgroup, I was able to learn how the robot funcstions down to the very core: the electrical board. That experience changed my perspective on the robot. Forever!” -- Ximena Mora

Robot: Programming


his year the main goal of programming was to score during autonomous mode using the camera. The Midnight Mechanics Programming Team worked with MPLAB to develop an algorithm using the pan and tilt values from the camera to drive the robot up to the green light on the competition field. Essentially, the plan was to train the robot to follow the green light. This “training” was accomplished by having a human player drive the robot up to the light while a computer records the pan, tilt, and also the joystick values. Upon running the training session for several trials and in different positions, a linear algorithm was derived to imitate the joystick values given the pan and tilt from the camera. In this sense, the robot “learned” how to approach the light. A scaled-down model robot was first trained to drive up to the light with great success. When it came time to test the larger robot, large scale problems began to appear. For one, it was

more difficult to train the larger robot due to mechanical problems of turning and the inertia of the robot. The drive system of the larger robot presented another problem in that stopping simply meant no electricity. This meant that the robot would still be moving even when the algorithm told it to stop after receiving certain camera values. The solutions to this problem were to back drive the robot for a short time interval to cancel out the motors, which have not completely stopped, or to decelerate at a farther distance. However, in the end, the major problems came down to weight and time. The programming team ran out of time before the program could have been tweaked to perfection. An even greater problem was the weight; the robot was overweight and since the camera program was not optimized, it was discarded. As for the driver interface, the programmers with the consultation of the drivers decided on a tank style drive system. Instead of direct mapping, a polynomial was derived with a deadband to slowly accelerate. Standard buttons were used to deploy the ramps.


Mentors from Cal[IT]2 attend regular meetings to help our students. MPLab Principal Investigator, Professor Javier Movellan, is on the far left.

Last year, our progreamming team narrowed down to only a group of veteran members. Trying to instill an excitement to becomoe involved in the programming aspect of our team, Team 812 held workshops where students were exposed to all areas of building, especially programming.

Our Sponsors
The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association [AFCEA] is one of the world’s premier C4I professional societies. With over 33,000 members on four continents, AFCEA is comprised of political, military and industry leaders. There are 135 different AFCEA chapters in over 30 countries. The Association is widely recognized for excellence, high ethical standards and the quality of its events. It is considered by top decision makers to be the pre-eminent association in its field. AFCEA serves as an ethical bridge between government requirements and industry’s capabilities, representing the top government, industry, and military professionals. nications field. Giving the changing climate of competitiveness, the University of California has leveraged its strong research and technical capabilities to create a secret weapon: the California Institutes for Science and Innovation, which has the ability to drive innovation. But to drive innovation, you must be innovative: Cal[IT]2 represents a new mechanism to address large-scale societal issues by bringing together multidisciplinary teams of the best minds [both on and beyond UC campuses] in a way that had been impossible earlier.



The Annenberg Foundation, established in 1989, is the successor corporation to the Annenberg School at Radnor, Pennsylvania founded in 1958 by Walter H. Annenberg. The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication. As the principal means of achieving this goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. Ambassador Annenberg founded The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 1971. In 1983, he established the Washington Program in Communication Policy Studies in response to the growing awareness that difficult government and industry problems were emerging in the rapidly changing telecommuUCSD, our local university, has supported us financially in addition to providing us with mentors and resources, especially outreach opportunities.


Fish and Richardson P.C. is a national law firm with over 400 lawyers in ten offices: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Dallas, Delaware, New York, San Diego , Silicon Valley, Twin Cities, and Washington, DC. The firm is one of the largest firms practicing intellectual property, litigation, and corporate law and the only firm with a truly national intellectual property practice.


General Motors, the world’s largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for 76 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 284,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries. In 2006, 9.1 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services.


Hitec Robotics is a division of Hitec RCD Inc., an International manufacturer of Hobby Electronics for over 25 years. This family owned company is based in Seoul, South Korea with offices in America, the Philippines, Germany, Japan and China. Hitec Robotics is proud to be a member of the Hitec family of companies offering dependable hobby electronic products that are used by millions of R/C and robot enthusiasts worldwide.

“Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics, is a model of a successful engineering corporation. Qualcomm is grateful for the opportunity to help further the goals of the Preuss FIRST Robotics Program” -- Qualcomm
today and into tomorrow.



Today, the potentially promising avenues of success for cancer research in general are substantially more varied than they were only five years ago. In response, the Preuss Foundation was formed. The mission of The Preuss Foundation is to rally this worldwide group of scientific explorers by providing the funds they need to help end this disease. The Preuss Foundation is dedicated to providing support and an international communication forum wherein the progress of innovative research can flourish.


The Preuss School Parent Teacher Association is a coalition of parents, faculty, and students that are actively involved in the development and organization of the Preuss School. Annually, the Parent Teacher Association contributes to the success of students by enhancing the learning environment. We do this be being involved in student organizations, school functions, and staff development.

The institution that became UCSD was first conceived by the University of California in the late 1950s during the postwar science boom. It was to be a graduate and research Institute of Technology and Engineering, providing instruction and research in mathematics, physics, chemistry, the earth and biological sciences, and engineering. These original plans were soon expanded into plans for a more general campus under the leadership of Roger Revelle, then SIO director. The first faculty appointment was made in July 1957, and two years later, the UC Regents approved the University of California, La Jolla. In 1960, the campus was renamed the University of California, San Diego, and its first graduate students were enrolled.




Next-generation wireless communications is emerging as the most important technology of this millennium. To ensure that the entire wireless industry is inspired and continues to evolve, innovate and experience success, QUALCOMM develops its technologies and solutions for the purpose of enabling key participants in the wireless value chain. By partnering with and acting as an enabler to the business activities of these participants, QUALCOMM ultimately enables consumers, professionals and government entities — the end users who benefit from the success of the wireless industry

The mission of the MPLab is to gain insights into how the brain works by developing embodied systems that solve problems similar to those encountered by the brain. They focus on systems that perceive and interact with humans in real time using natural communication channels . They are developing perceptual primitives to detect and track human faces and to recognize facial expressions. The lab is 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.

FIRST Lego League
“Bringing FIRST Lego League to San Diego, Team 812 has had a tradition of spreading math, science, engineering, and gracious professionalism to younger students throughout Southern California!” -- Katrina Wong
a deeper appreciation for the mission of the FLL competition. Team 812 members were able to create excitement in a younger generation about the core ideals of FIRST. They proudly watched the matriculation of the next scientists and engineers in the students they mentored. In doing so, team members were motivated to set higher standards for the next generation by being able to surpass the expectations established for them today. The Mini Mechanics, in turn, inspire Team 812 members. “I came into FIRST with little expectations. It wasn’t until I was asked to mentor the FLL students that I truly recognized the impact of FIRST on my peers. I recall working with the FLL students on day after school. It late into the evening and the kids were, as I want to believe, hard at work. One of the kids, a shy young girl, was working on her presentation. I sat down and listened. She spoke passionately about how her mother died of cancer; about how the biomedical community is shy of resources to treat patients of infectious diseases, especially cancer. She expressed the pivotal role of nanotechnology in changing the primitive atmosphere of the biomedical field by leading innovation in medicine and treatment. ‘I want to become a physician and treat patients with cancer,’ she said. I am confident that, years from now, she will!” said James Noraky, a student mentor for one of The Preuss School FLL teams. To continue 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. Becoming “Mini-Midnight Mechanics”, these students were given handson experience in planning, strategizing, building, and programming. Each Mini-Midnight Mechanic 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


or the past five years, members from Team 812 have mentored middle school students participating in the FIRST Lego League [FLL] program at The Preuss School UCSD. In the 2006 season, Team 812 participants mentored four FLL teams independently, without adult support, acting as engineering mentors in the FIRST Robotics program. The challenge was “Nano Quest,” for 2006, which focused on “exploring existing sciences at the molecular level”. Through the challenge, students discovered this revolutionary field that is expected to impact every aspect of modern living. The teams competed in 9 missions dealing with the manipulation of atoms and molecules to solve problems. Not only did the FLL members learn how to build Lego robots, but they also learn about the possible solutions nano technology can offer to problems in medicine, the environment, and in everyday life. They demonstrated understanding of these concepts by creating their own PowerPoint presentation and presenting to a panel of judges. Through these experiences, participants gained
For five years, Team 812 has mentored four FLL teams at the Preuss school. Involving middle school students, our team emphasizes the importance of gracious professionalism.

Working hard on the computer, Preuss School FLL team tries to complete a program for the robot before they are called back up to compete.

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 futureperhaps 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, Pick-Up 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.

“As a mentor for the Preuss FIRST Lego League teams, I have been able to develop as a leader on personal levels. But what is more rewarding is the fact that I am able to spread a little bit of what I know on to younger students. Nothing can compare to that.” -- Umar Usman


Summer Punete expresses her devotion towards gracious professionalism and Team San Diego!

Bringing FLL to San Diego County, Team 812 is responsible for the organization of the San Diego Lego Challenge, an information FLL tournament run by our team each fall that engages over sixteen teams in Southern California.

The Lego Challenge
“Although a leader, I have never been in a position where I am supposed to lead a group of forty people in doing something that affects an entire community. Organizing the San Diego Lego Challenge helped me understand my place in my school and my community.” -- Vanessa Pacheco
petition. The subgroups communicated with each other by documenting work and reporting, daily, to the PEMP, a student 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 Lego Challenge, 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: “Nano Quest.” 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 and our team. When we introduced FLL to San Diego, the FLL 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


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 Lego Challenge, an FLL tournament, 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 sixteen teams in attendance, the event reached to thousands of 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 PM. 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 comStudents competiting at the San Diego Lego Challenge takes on the role of engineers and scientists.

An all-girl FLL team waits patiently as their are called to be on deck for the next game. Excited, it is the first time where the entire team is comprised of sisters!

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. Also, our partnership with the University of San Diego [USD], expands our support for FLL teams in Southern California. Coming to our event, USD presented to students, parents, and teachers the rigorous engineering program that they offer. Their curriculum, supported with scholarships

and internships for first-generation college bound students of low socioeconomic status, targets our specific student population and helps them become more confident that, somewhere down the road, they will be in a position where they can strive for a higher education; the goal of the Preuss School itself.

“Recognizing the dedication of each member of Team 812 in organizing the San Diego Lego Challenge, USD is proud to support the team. We are also proud to introduce $5000-$15000 scholarships for students, like those of Team 812, who are interested in pursuing careers in math and science at USD.” -- Rick Olson


With each passing year, the FLL robots become more sophisticated.

The San Diego Lego Challenge is a testament to the success of the organizational structure of Team 812. Divided into groups, students are responsible for putting on the entire event.



robot, and training each student in basic offensive, and defensive driving. My goal, as coach, was to make sure that the students kept the robot very simple. The strategy planned for the robot was just to have a sweeper-robot that would gather balls and score in the low goals. After the students finished their planning, they went straight to building the robot. After three weeks of learning about tools and parts, and constructing, the students were ready to turn on the robot and drive. At the Northrop Grumman Exhibition competition, the students performed extremely well, considering they were up against high school students. Each student took control of the robot for one round. They each out-performed other robots that were trying to accomplish the same task. All their work for the past month landed the students in fourth place in a competition against high school students and professional engineers. This season has been very successful, considering the time constraints. I, as coached, hope that the students learned the most important rule about trying to complete a task, and that is: to keep it simple.

he FIRST Vex Challenge this year was Hangin’ Around. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than your opponent alliance by placing softballs into your colored goals, possessing the atlas ball on your side of the field, and by being parked on the platform or hanging on the 33” bar at the end of the match. A bonus is awarded to the alliance that has the most total ball points at the end of the Autonomous Period. There are a total of 46 softballs available as scoring objects in the game. Forty of these softballs will be found on the field, while three will be available to each alliance prior to the match.

This year, the Preuss School VEX team consisted of middle and high school students, one high school coach, and one advisor. I was chosen as the high school coach, because I was the Team Captain of last year’s high school team. Since the team was made of both middle and high school students, the team was put in a new and challenging position for they would be competing against mainly high school students. The team also hard a fairly late start, but they did not let time be a factor in completion of the

In its second year, VEX outperformed veterans teams, college level engineering teams, and local schools at the VEX Regional Competition.

“Even though I will no longer be with them next year, I am confident that they will mature into an amazing team. Already, these students, new but eager, have shown that they have the potential to rise as a star in the field. All that is left is for them to tune up their skills and constantly apply what they have learned towards every aspect of their life.” -- Brian Mounmanivong



UC Regents
UC Regent, Peter Preuss, made the Preuss School UCSD possible to be existing today. With his initial generous donation to build the foundation of the school, he has been involved with the organization of the school, its curriculum, and importantly, its FIRST Robotics Program.


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. Supporting our team, the UC Regents extends their helping hands towards providing us opportunities to reach out to our local and national community. Our success as a team could not have been without their continued dedication and faith in who we are and what we have come to stand for. “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

“Seeing the Preuss FIRST Robotics team start off from its humble beginnings as a team that did not even have a machine shop to rely o n into one that has become such a powerful force in the community has always been an honor of mine. Watching over their progress across the past span of six years, it has been amazing to see how they could surpass all their troubles and adversities to emerge as who they are: the Midnight Mechanics.” -- Peter Preuss


“We proposed this idea to them and they gave us the funding so we could buy the materials and get Preuss set up with their own contest,” says Delson. “The funding also allowed us to hire some UCSD students to work as the high schoolers’ mentors.” During the quarter those UCSD mentors worked twice a week with teams of Preuss School students. Then at the end of the quarter, four teams were allowed to pit their robots against the best that the college students could muster. The students recall staying at school until 8 each evening in the week before the event. In the round-robin elimination rounds, one of the Preuss School teams made it all the way to the semi-finals. “They were ecstatic, especially because they only got their robot working a couple of days before the event,” recalls Delson. The Preuss School may now incorporate the competition into its pre-engineering curriculum, and Delson hopes the high schoolers will give the UCSD teams a run for their money again next fall, with continued support from Cal[IT]2.

ngineers want to build things and use technology to make the world better, and to do that, they need to combine both theory and practice,” says Nathan Delson, Director of UCSD’s Mechanical Engineering Design Center. “What we try to do is show them they can build things by using a little bit of physics and a little bit of math and a lot of creativity. Design brings all those things together.” MAE3 [Mechanical Aerospace Engineering 3], a ten-week course, includes the basics of building machines and using shop facilities. During the first third of the course, the undergraduates work on individual projects. Then for the rest of the quarter, they break into teams to build machines - usually some type of robot -- that compete in a class-wide contest. “The students have a tremendous sense of pride over getting their machines to work,” says Delson. “Students have told me it changes the way they think of engineering because of how they bring their ideas and apply them.” The Jacobs School and Cal[IT]2 are now trying to use the robot design contest to get even younger students excited about engineering. In fall 2004, Delson and the Preuss team’s advisor, Rob Manieri, approached the UCSD division of Cal[IT]2 to sponsor Preuss students’ participation in the MAE3 design contest. Dan Rupert, also a Preuss teacher, guided the students in the competition.

“Because of the Preuss School, I am proud to annouce that this year, three other high schools in San Diego have taken up MAE3 into their curriculum. The Preuss School have inspired their district to recognize the importance of engineering in education on all levels.” -- Nathan Delson
Students from Team 812 are competiting against undergraduate college engineering students at UCSD. These students, an all-girls team, came home with the Third Place Prize.

UCSD MP Laboratory
The Machine Perception Laboratory works with children at the ECEC, an easly education day care center of children in La Jolla, California., to study the science of how the human brain works.

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. 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. 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. 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. The Center’s principal investigators 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.


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. 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 be an active research laboratory studying human learning and interaction. The DLC will become the epicenter of cognitive research in San Diego. According to the National Science Foundation, 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. The broader impact of this proposal will be first, to


UCSD Education Studies
holds presentations to students during their Discussions. Presenting FIRST, engineering education, and robotics, we solicit volunteers who are interested in becoming involved with FIRST as a mentor. We pair them with local teams and have them shadow those in their region. During this time, not only do they offer their knowledge on certain areas of business administration, but they also learn how to start, manage, and fund a successful FIRST team. As a result, we are making it more possible for more schools in San Diego to become involved with FIRST. Breaking the traditional barriers that prevent schools from implementing a FIRST team, we offer the County teachers who are both prepared for teaching in underperforming classrooms and are equipped with the FIRST experience. These up-coming teachers, the future of our education system, will be able to spread FIRST wherever they go.

ducation Studies [EDS] at UCSD offers several programs for those interested in teacher training and educational professional development. For detailed descriptions of individual programs, see the following links on our website: Undergraduate Programs; M.Ed./Credential Programs; Master of Arts Degrees; and Doctor of Education Programs. Education Studies at UCSD supports the goal of equity and educational excellence for all K-12 students in our public schools. This goal is actualized through the academic and field components of our programs. Students learn research-based teaching practices and engage in extensive reflection and writing on their classroom practice. Students are asked to examine their teaching performance in relationship to the diverse social, cultural, economic, and political context of California public schools. EDS classroom placements reflect our commitment to prepare our graduates to become highly successful teachers in underperforming schools situated within linguistically and culturally diverse communities. With the EDUS Credential Program, Team 812


“FIRST embodies everything we are trying to teach our students in how to become a better teacher.” -- Rachel Millstone

It comes to be no surprise when students in FLL go onto to succeed in math and science from an early start. This tradition is then translated into their high school and college years.

Constantly raising the bar, Team 812 reached out to the UCSD Department of Education Students and are working with students in their Masters Program. Having these students shadow a FIRST team, we want to increase the feasibility of having more schools be involed in FIRST.

Women In Engineering
“Team 812 has done an amazing job in reaching out to female students in the community. It has been a pleasure working with them.” -- Truc Ngo SAN DIEGO CITY COLLEGE ROBOTICS COMPETITION UCSD SALLY RIDE FESTIVAL



his year, San Diego City College, a part of the San Diego Community College System, is has invited female participants on Team 812 to participate in its RoboRocks Robotics Competition for female high school students. RoboRocks is an exciting robotics competition for 10 all-female teams throughout the city of San Diego. Each team consists of three high school students and one college student. Working side-by-side, the high school students have the opportunity to be mentored, guided, and learns from the college students. Meanwhile, the college students are able to get a unique first-hand perception from the high school students, as well as fresh ideas. Each team is mentored by industry representatives from local businesses and companies. Over a six-week period each team will build a mobile robot from LEGO Mindstorms kits using microcomputers and compatible software. Because of generous support from the community, the robot kits are free to the teams. Members of winning teams will receive industry - sponsored scholarships to City College.
Having come such a long way, Team 812 has been able to break the biggest barrier in engineering: gender.

n November 19, 2006, a group of female students from Team 812 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. In addition to Team 812, other organizations, who were trying to inspire female middle and high 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. 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. Impact on the girls that 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 dominantly-male 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.

BUDDY Program
“I remember having to wake up really early PREUSS TUTORING Everyday, after school, there are Math and Science and having to take the car, the bus,a nd Tutoring Programs. Students who are struggling the charter bus today to pick up Angelina in math and science or just need a place to go and Ferreira and I. Although we have so much do their homework can find a place in one of the homework after school, we still stay in order available classrooms. Math and Science teachers, to help our students. So it is very unique for although not paid extra for their service, volunteer their time after school to give students an extra a FIRST team to do such things.” helping hand. But there is a problem. Because of -- Kyle Norquist BUDDY PROGRAM


ince 2001, Team 812 made it our mission to promote science and technology to youths of low socioeconomic backgrounds, underrepresented minorities, underprivileged students, and girls, a group that compose our team, and give them the head start that we did not have in our local underserved schools. Originating at our own school with the tutoring of middle school students, our efforts have spilled beyond Preuss to all over San Diego County. As a result of our determination, Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth [BUDDY] was born.

this, not many teachers are able to stay after school. Although classrooms are filled up with students who desperately need help in these disciplines, there averages only one teacher at any given time to help the students. That is where Team 812 comes into the equation. We have students who stay after school everyday to help our teachers be able to tutor and mentor a group of thirty kids. Students on Team 812 volunteer their time during the week in order to be able to reach out to and help students are who in need of guidance. Sometimes Preuss students just need some place to go outside of home. Here, after school, they can work with students on our team to finish their homework, reeducate themselves about


While our goal is to also build computers for those who do not access to them, Team 812 is already piloting local computer literacy courses at Boys and Girls Clubs.

Helping students in our community, students whose lives are much like our own, we see the changes that we entice. It is amazing foe such a team to have such an amazing impact.

the material that was recently presented in class, or, sometimes, prepare for an upcoming exam. With over seven hours of available tutoring each week, Team 812 really reaches out to each student in our school.


Saturday Enrichment Academy [SEA] is a program that offers academic assistance for students who are on academic probation. At Preuss, the mission is to get all of our students to be able to be eligible for a college education. Preuss cannot complete this mission if students are falling behind. While most students are doing fine in the classroom, we do have those we need an extra push. To help them, SEA gives them a place to go every other Saturday to get help from teachers and, now, student mentors from Team 812. Team 812 students who excel in academic subjects are given the opportunity to assist their peers by volunteering as student tutors.

The feedback Robotics received from the students was very positive. “It feels good to finally understand geometry proofs and the Robotics students helped me a lot in this,” quoted Uyen Tran, a seventh grader. Being proactive in the Preuss community allows FIRST Robotics students to give back to the school that has given tremendous support to the team.


The collaboration with the San Diego Public Libraries [SDPL] is a source for Team 812 to do outreach with inner-city children. The SDPL are dedicated in assisting Team 812 in our endeavor and provides many outreach opportunities throughout the year in order for us to introduce engineering to children. Team members participate 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-to-student interaction. In short, our students reach 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, Team 812 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 they have in life.

“It is a great help to have students to mentor each other. This creates an elaborate learning environment” quotes Kelly Kovacic, a SEA faculty adviser. Team 812 members are SEA participants by mentoring and tutoring middle and high school students in the mathematics and science departments. Team 812 students are able to help their peers develop into accomplished individuals by, not only helping them with their homework on Saturday mornings, but also being able to sit down with them and talk to them about how important it is to succeed in life; how they can do that if they just put in the effort to get help when they know they need it most.


Student on Team 812 helping classmate with mathematics problem.

Working with local San Diego Boys and Girls Clubs, Team 812 brought peer mentorship to younger students in their own communities. These children are 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. We developed a curriculum for the local Boys and Girls Clubs for a computer literacy program for the students. Computer literacy is a crucial skill that is

The UCSD Moore Cancer Center is a place where senior FIRST students package local laboratory experiments for schools.

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. 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, they do not have to struggle through the process, for we are there with them each step of the way.

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. Team 812 students also had them draw what they envisioned a robot would be. These kids then went on to build mock robots of their own out of Lego pieces.



Volunteer San Diego [VSD] is an 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. VSD capacity building programs and services allow volunteers to work hand-in-hand with nonprofit agencies to develop strong and vibrant communities. VSD 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, VSD volunteers contributed over 108,000 hours [or $2 million in people power] to make our community a better place to live, work and play.


Bringing FIRST to local day care centers in San Diego, we were able to integrate others in the community into our team. Through a short video demonstration of the building process in FIRST Lego League and a demonstration of an FLL robot, we introduced FIRST Lego League to the children at the local day care centers. We had an immediate and tremendous response from the students. The students submitted a torrent


Students Actively Volunteering for You [SAVY], a

Science Night at local Garfield Elementary. Team 812 showcase students out robot.

tion rates, and students from geographic areas with documented low college eligibility or participation rates.


program of Volunteer San Diego, has been empowering young people to make a difference in communities since 1984. Middle and high school students throughout San Diego County have the opportunity to develop and demonstrate leadership skills while meeting real community needs.

The 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 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, Team 812 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 crate 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. With Cal-SOAP, we are piloting SAT/ACT preparatory courses at the Monarch School. Our students have prepared their own SAT/ACT material and use the generous help of Cal-SOAP to run these events. 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.



This year, with Volunteer San Diego and SAVY, Team 812 reached out to the local San Diego Rescue Mission, a local institution for sheltering homeless teenagers. The San Diego Rescue Mission has the capacity to clothe, feed, and support twentyone teenagers at any given time. Although they do receive funding from the local and state budget, they do have a hard time getting buy. With chipped walls and fraying pieces of furniture, the Shelter needed a desperate make over. VSD solicited the support of Team 812 to come out to the Shelter and build shelving units. After installing the new pieces of furniture, Team 812 became dedicated towards reaching out to the homeless population in San Diego. Extending our peer mentorship support out to the kids in the Shelter, our team will be helping these kids, not only getting off the street, but also get back on their own two feet.


To provide information about postsecondary education and financial aid to elementary through high school students while raising their academic achievement levels. In particular, Cal-SOAP is committed to providing services to students from low-income families in which they would be the first to attend college, students from schools with documented low college eligibility or participa-


The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center seeks to inspire life-long learning by furthering the public’s understanding and enjoyment of science and technology.

Team 812 students are working with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in order to create a robotics program in their Community Education Department. In addition, Team 812 volunteers 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 Team 812, more than 100 people currently volunteer at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Youth 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.

the chassis of our robot. Enthused, team members are attacked by questions regarding the function of the robot. Parents and teachers also speak to our team members about their experience with FIRST and the Preuss School UCSD. Amazed to see children of similar condition succeed at a college preparatory school for low-income children, these parents make up their mind that, later on in their child’s life, they want them to attend a school like Preuss. We also host laboratory experiments at local schools as a part of our Service Learning requirements for the senior graduating class. Senior FIRST members on Team 812 spend their Friday Mornings teaching students fundamentals of earth, physics, chemistry, biology, and medical sciences and enhance them with a laboratory activity. Students, performing science experiments during school, are asked to present the results and conclusions to these experiments to parents and school administrators.


Our volunteers also mentor students at the Fleet Summer Camp each summer. The Summer Camp includes a one-week training and informational course in forensics, biology, robotics, aeronautics, and genetic exploration. Attracting hundreds of students throughout Southern California, the Fleet Summer Camp is an amazing summer program to promote math, science, and engineering. For the past two years, we have been lending out a helping hand to the Fleet Center. Also, we have been involved in working to put together a robotics competition for the Fleet Summer Camp. Working with the Lego Education Department, we hope to establish a Lego Mindstorm course as a part to the Summer Camp. Our students are thankful for all that we have been given by the Fleet Center and want to do all that we can to give a little bit back.



At local elementary, middle, and high schools, Team 812 hosts Science Nights to, not only get students, teachers, and parents involved in the learning of science education, but FIRST as well. Showcasing our robots, we expose students to FRC, FLL, and Vex robots. Students, excited and eager to see such machinery, run from the arms of their parents to

“My mother would get so mad at me for spending all of my time “building robots” as she calls it. But really, I am also out in my community changing the way people think and perceive math, science, and technology. I am mentoring students of an underserved background. I am teaching them the importance of academic excellence and are helping them achieve that through tutoring them each week. So she call yell at me all she wants, deep inside I know what I am doing for my community.” -- Ximena Mora

STEPS Program
Presenting to local educators and students about opportunities in math and science, Team 812 makes scholarship and internship opportunities more available to a broader population of students.


“It was amazing to be able to stand in front of a group of people and be able to tell them your story; the story of how you transitioned from being a small, impressionable child to one that is participating in a twlve year internship with the National Institutes of Health at the Temple University Scbool of Medicine in Philadelphia each summer. It is even more wonderful with parents come up to you and tell you that they aspire for their children to be just like you.” -- Paul Tran

We hold conferences, workshops, and seminars for high school students to learn about summer programs at Temple University, John Hopkins, MIT, WPI, and UC schools. These universities work with us to spread the message of their programs to eligible students throughout San Diego County. With NASA and National Institutes of Health, we promote research fellowships for college students across the nation by making presentations at our local universities. We also collaborate with Cal[IT]2, UCSD Cancer Center, and Neurosciences Institute to provide internships for FIRST students. Students have the unique opportunity to be able to work in laboratories alongside college mentors who are studying telecommunication, science education, and cognitive science. We also work with UCSD, USD, and SDSU to provide $5000-$15000 scholarships to cover tuition costs for first-generation college bound FIRST students. 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.


eam 812 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. Team 812 initiated the 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 local and national universities and organizations to make STEPS the first successful scholarship-internship advocacy program in the West.

US Congress


ith Congress, Team 812 is spreading the message of FIRST throughout the United States. In the beginning, we wrote letters and sent out regional invitations to our local legislatures. Although that was a great effort, it was even more wonderful when our local legislatures responded. Before long, we found ourselves in the office of Lori Saldana [CA-76], talking to her about FIRST and our experience with engineering and robotics. Later, we found a letter in the mail from Susan Davis [CA-53], who pledged her support for our team. We even heard back from her and were informed that she was able to engage Nancy Pelosi [CA-8] to help us institute nationwide engineering education. Together, they urged Congress to work with us to put the United States back in the forefront of innovation, especially at a time when we were falling farther and farther behind. Making Team 812 a part of the history of the United States, they had our accomplishments documented in the permanent Congressional Record. In May, a student from our

team will be visiting Washington DC to speak to Congress about FIRST.

Dear FIRST Robotics Team 812 Students: Congratulations on your successes at the Southern California Regional and National Championship competitions! I am thrilled to learn that your team was able to finish in the top fifty of all teams currently participating in the FIRST program. I am also excited that 2007 will be the first year that the San Diego area will host its own Robotics Regional competition. This new event will give additional local students the opportunity to participate in FIRST teams, and to learn more about engineering, science, and technology. The mission of the Preuss School and its FIRST Robotics Team is an important one, giving low-income first-generation college bound students many opportunities that would not have been available to them otherwise. I look forward to meeting with the FIRST Robot-


From the very beginning, Susan Davis has shown her support for the Preuss School and Team 812.

Lori Saldana and Susan Davis have been contributing factors to the success of Team 812. Because of them, Congressional members, like Nancy Pelosi, are involved in the spreading of FIRST ideals.

Students on Team 812 are commended by local legislatures for our involvement in FIRST.

ics Team students to learn more about the program and its future in San Diego. If there is anything that my staff can assist you with, please contact my district office. Sincerely, Lori Saldana Assembly Member, 76th District

ing March. I know you are all probably already hard at work for the 2007 competition and I want to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to you and your team. I certainly know which team I will be rooting for come April. My staff and I have been working very hard the past couple of weeks to craft a statement for the Congressional Record to commend you and your team. I was honored to submit the statement today. With warm regards, Susan A. Davis Member of Congress


Dear Paul Tran of Team 812,

Thank you very much for your recent email about the Preuss School FIRST Robotics Team. I appreciate hearing from you and apologize for the delayed response. It was great to hear from you. Team 812 sounds like exactly the kind of organization that our country and the City of San Diego needs. I want to congratulate you and the rest of the Midnight Mechanics on your back-to-back Regional Chairman’s Award and Regional and National Engineering Inspiration Team Award. In addition to these prestigious awards, I would also like to commend Team 812 on its service to the community. At a time when our country’s young people are falling farther behind those of other industrialized nations in engineering and science, your team’s work with FIRST BUDDY, FIRST STEPS, and your efforts to bring FIRST to other high schools in the San Diego area are critical to helping us close that gap. I am very glad to see that San Diego will be hosting its first ever FIRST Regional competition this com-

“Wow! When I reached into the mail and received an official letter from Ms. Susan Davis, I knew that it was the real deal. After hundreds of letters to local legislatures and regional invitations, I have been anticipating some form of response for months. Here it is! In the palm of my hand. Who would have known that weeks after the Prudential Financial Foundation was going to sponsor my trip to Washington D.C. to speak about FIRST and Team 812? Who in the world knew?” -- Paul Tran

Congressional Record
Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics, from the Preuss School UCSD in San Diego, California was a subject of discussion at the January 29 Congressional Meeting. Our representative, Susan Davis [CA-53], made a statement about Team 812 and our accomplishments to Nacy Pelosi, Speaker, and all of the Congressional members. The following is the statement that was placed into the Congressional Record: SPEECH OF HON. SUSAN A. DAVIS CALIFORNIA DISTRICT 53 IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 2007 Ms. DAVIS of California. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the members of the Preuss School UCSD robotics team. Team 812, known as the Midnight Mechanics, have competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition - an annual robot design and construction contest that draws over 20,000 participants from all over the world - for the past five years. For two years in a row, Team 812 has won the Regional Chairman’s Award for the Southern California Region. During the 2003-2004 competition, the Midnight Mechanics won the National Engineering Inspiration Award. But Team 812’s accomplishments do not end outside the engineering lab or the construction shop. The team has initiated the FIRST BUDDY program to mentor disadvantaged students in math and science and estbalished the FIRST STEPS program to reach out to inner-city high school students and share with them their zeal for science. Team 812 has also brought their passion into the classrooms and corridors of 10 other high schools in the San Diego area and has helped them field robotics teams of their own. Together the Midnight Mechanics and these 10 newer teams have formed the Team San Diego FIRST Robotics coalition, a coordinating organization to build new partnerships in the community and recruit more high schools to field robotics teams. I am proud to report that through the hard work of the Midnight Mechanics and the Team San Diego FIRST Robotics coalition, the City of San Diego will be hosting its inaugural FIRST Robotics Competition this coming March. At a time when our country’s young people are falling father and farther behind those of other industrialized nations in math and science, I want to commend the members of Team 812, for their dedication to their craft, for their excellence in their efforts, and for the ability to instill a love for science in fellow young people. Not only are the Midnight Mechanics first rate competitors, they are also true servants of the community. We need more role models like these to inspire our younger children. Finally, I want to recognize Paul Tran, the dedicated young man who first brought Team 812 to my attention. Paul wrote the following to me in a letter: “We need your help to assist us in instituting FIRST Robotics in every high school in San Diego, in California, and essentially, the United States ... We need your help to bring FIRST to the attention of the US House of Representatives and the Senate.” Madam Speaker, dear colleagues, I hope you will help me fulfill Paul’s request and spread the word of this wonderful program to all corners of our country. SPEAKER: HON. NANCY PELOSI


Team 812 student writes letters to local legislatures on the computer.

Principals’ Forum
Local educators gather around the auditorium to listen to a FIRST student from Team 812 speak about his experience with FIRST.


To make the mission of FIRST more applicable to the education system established in San Diego, Team 812 aligned FIRST Robotics to the California State Education Standards. We depicted how FIRST played a role in all educational disciplines and how having a FIRST team at any high school would not only improve the quality of the education provided but also the system by which the school operated upon. Team 812 presented this information at our Principals’ Forum and sent each educator off with a small, condensed information packet that details what we have accomplished in that field. Our hope with the Principals’ Forum is to show teachers the impact that FIRST has had on all members of the San Diego community but also persuade them to try and do their best in spreading FIRST to their schools.

ach fall, Team 812 organizes the Annual Principals’ Forum at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center sponsors the event by providing their facilities for Team 812 to be able to carry out the mission of FIRST: to spread math and science to all those who are willing to listen. Our target audience is local administrators and educators in the Southern California region. Principals from local schools are invited to attend the event in order to gain a deeper understanding of FIRST and the FIRST Robotics Program at the Preuss School. In order to present this information in a cohesive manner, Team 812 organizes keynote speakers who would speak to our attending principals about how FIRST has impacted their life, their school, and their community. We also invite Team San Diego teams to showcase their robots and recent achievements at the Principals’ Forum. Teams, with their separate pits, would be able to showcase their robots to, not only local educators, but also local businesses and companies who are interested in helping Team San Diego extend out to other schools in the region.

“How in the world could someone have had such an impact of a group of princiapls? I cannot even begin to imagine. But the truth of the matter is, I stood there in the pit and spoke to a group of about five principals and teachers and told them about FIRST. I told them about how it has helped me become a mature young woman and see the potential of engineering math and science. I really have gained an appreciation for the Forum because it connects me with such people and helps me to make a real impact in my world. Those same five educators left the forum that day holding a booklet of Team 812 their hands and the inspiration to start a FIRST program at their school in their hearts.” -- Trang Dinh

International Programs
Judges at the Southern California Regional are lined up and eager to introduce themselves.


n an effort to spread the message of math and science internationally, team 812 has partnered with the International Humanity Foundation to bring an education to needy children in poverty-stricken countries like Indonesia and Kenya. The International Humanity Foundation is a humanitarian organization founded by Carol Maisara Sasaki focused on feeding and educating children affected by severe poverty. Mrs. Sasaki is widely recognized for her efforts as a volunteer winning the Presidential Volunteer of the Year Award and has worked with past presidents Reagan and Clinton in her service. As a strong believer in the power of education, Sasaki came to the Preuss School and spoke to our students encouraging them to get involved with her organization.

From then on, Team 812 at Preuss has been involved with the organization. Team 812 members organize monthly fundraisers to sponsor classrooms in Indonesia and Kenya. The money funds an education in English, Math, and Computer Literacy among other things for the kids. Team 812 sends money monthly to continue supporting these kids by selling food donated by our own robotics members. In addition to lending support financially, the team is working to support the kids by communicating with them and offering mentorship via email, letters, and webcam. 812 members would offer advice on working toward college here in the states and share their experiences in FIRST in hopes of sparking their interests in math and science. Through working with the International Humanity Foundation, not only are the children in these countries receiving an education but the members of Team 812 are as well. Coming from disadvantaged backgrounds ourselves, we get an opportunity to support children living a life affected by even more unfortunate circumstance and give them more of a chance to succeed. Team 812 hopes to travel to Indonesia to install solar panels in areas needing electricity and visit the children.


“Walking into the auditorium of the Preuss School UCSD, I would have never guessed that I would have been able to meet with such interesting and dedoicated people: Team 812. Sure, I expected hundreds of eager and enthusiastic young children waiting to ask questions or hear about how i got here, but never, never! did I ever imagine that a small robotics team would impact me the way that it has impacted the community.” -- Carol Sasaki

Team San Diego
“I have seen the way my society works. It is The teams work together in order to build a high regard for math and science in their underserved not an amazing way, trust me. You have communities. They collaborate to make presentathese students who are always trying to tions and organize and promote series of events that get to the top and then there are those who are hosted. don’t even care. Team San Diego, supporting all the schools with a FIRST team pus- A strong bond that is created between all of the teams leads to a cooperative environment. Ideas ghes both cultures forward. It is amazing and concerns are shared between the teams. to see kids who would have never succeeded Through this partnership, the teams have been in school make something of themselves able to succeed inside and outside of FIRST. Under through robotics; through Team San Diour leadership, teams from the Team San Diego ego. You see them dedicated for once, you see coalition have won the All-Star Rookie Award for three consecutive years at the Southern California them being proactive and leaders in their Regional and last year at Arizona. Teams have also own community; a community of FIRST won the Las Vegas Regional, the Engineering Inspiteams. Sometimes, you never see their ration Away, Safety Award, Daimler-Chrysler Team parents come out to support them, which is Spirit Award, Johnson and Johnson Sportsmanship great by the way. Looking back, I am proud Award, and the Perkins Entrepreneurship Award. to be a part of the team that started it all. I FIRST ROBOTICS KICK-OFF can only wait and see what the future truly The San Diego FIRST Robotics Kick-off is the fruit holds.” of several years of recruiting teams and finding a -- Antoinette Brou secure location to keep the season’s game veiled TEAM SAN DIEGO



s the eldest team in San Diego, Team 812 has taken the leadership role to recruit more teams in the area. Team San Diego consists of ten teams from primarily San Diego County. This forum works together in an effort to bring the FIRST ideals to areas all over Southern California and beyond. Team San Diego works together to 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 local students and adults to work cooperatively towards a common goal. Team San Diego was formed in 2003 under the leadership of Team 812. Currently, Team San Diego is comprised of ten award winning FIRST teams.

until the moment came. With the help of Team San Diego, the San Diego FIRST Robotics Kick-off became an official kickoff site with the creation of the San Diego Regional this year. On the campus of High Tech High San Diego, teams from San Diego County congregated to discover what each year’s challenge will be. In addition to viewing the prerecorded broadcast, participants were invited to a series of brain storming activities and team building exercises. The Kick-off serves as a first glimpse of FIRST for rookie teams and gives them the opportunity to have questions and concerns addressed.


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 collabo-

rates to put on the exposition, including promotion of the event to the community and the organization of pit and robot demonstrations. On the day of the event, 812 members decorate and put up posters to guide guests. We also demo an actual competition pit set up and answer any questions any of the rookie team members may have. Each team present brings their robot and is able to have a practice run-through on the game set up while giving advice to other teams having trouble. Team San Diego teams also greet guests, including sponsors and business people, and introduce them to the competition. Through the expo, more of the community is exposed to FIRST Robotics and rookies get an idea of the actual regional competitions.

other FIRST Robotics teams. Hosted at Madison High School, Team 812 members help coordinate 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 members are also responsible for the preparation of the competition environment. Preparation includes setting up the playing field for the competition. The event includes entertainment and food. Many attendees end up staying late enjoying the games and social environment with other FIRST participants. A Scrimmage very similar to the actual competition takes place consisting of practice rounds, qualifying rounds, alliance selections, finals, judges and referees. This friendly competition brings closure to the season. Members of the San Diego and Los Angeles community are invited to experience FIRST with Team San Diego and witness the hard work each team put into the competition.


Team San Diego hosts the Annual San Diego County Lock-in and Scrimmage. In the past, teams from California, Arizona, and Nevada have attended to compete in an informal post-season FIRST competition. At the Lock-In event, teams participating in the Scrimmage have the opportunity to socialize with


Whether it be speeches, presentations, or just a simple showcase of the robot, do your best to spread the name of the school and the team.

Team 812 leads Team San Diego in the spreading of FIRST ideals with events such as the Team San Diego Exposition. But after such a long day, team members are tired and worn out.

Executive Summary
“Looking out into the crowd, I would have never guessed that my team, a small mechanic team nested behind a mask of balloons and banners, would one day emerge to become a Chairman’s Award winning team. Somehow, it came to my surprise that we were a Chairman’s Award winning team two years in a row.” -- Vu Hong
IMPACT OF THE FIRST PROGRAM ON TEAM PARTICIPANTS: Although we come from disadvantaged backgrounds, FIRST helped us become confident, motivated individuals who will succeed in life. Netting over 2 million dollars in scholarships, 100% of team members go on to 4-year universities with 80% pursuing careers in math, science, and engineering. Having participated in summer engineering programs, research fellowships, and UCSD internships, students use their acquired skills to change the lives of other inner-city children in our society. ROLE MODEL CHARACTERISTICS FOR OTHER TEAMS TO EMULATE: Team 812 founded the TSD [Team San Diego] Coalition to support all San Diego teams. We lead TSD by attending monthly meetings, providing workshops, grants, and guaranteed assistance. We also reach out to 20 FLL teams and run the San Diego Lego Challenge every year. Our year-round outreach includes mentoring struggling students, speaking at events, restoring homeless shelters, offering SAT/ACT help, VEX, and providing summer engineering programs. We are more than just a robot-building team. IMPACT OF THE FIRST PROGRAM ON YOUR TEAM AND YOUR COMMUNITY: Because of FIRST, Team 812 students recognize the potential of engineering. We partnered with Project Lead the Way to implement 3 high school engineering courses, FLL, and VEX. Encouraging kids in our community to pursue opportunities in math and science beyond the classroom, our STEPS Program partners with


FIRST has guided us along this path of success and remember all those who have helped us come such a long way.

Having once been the child of the inner city, Team 812 has adopted the role of being the vehicle for change in our society. We are GOING THE EXTRA MILE to reform the culture of San Diego.

Although we have no machine shop, Team 812 is fortunate to have dedicated mentors from the university come and help us with our endeavors.

Temple University, Johns Hopkins, MIT, WPI, UC schools, NASA, NIH, Cal[IT]2, UCSD Cancer Center, and Neurosciences Institute to advocate scholarship, internship, and fellowship opportunities. STRENGTH OF YOUR PARTNERSHIP: Our partnership with AFCEA, Annenberg Foundation, Cal[IT]2, Fish and Richardson, General Motors, Hitec RCD, Preuss Foundation, Preuss PTA, Qualcomm, and UCSD provides us with funds, mentors, and outreach opportunities. BUDDY, our peer mentorship program, partners with Preuss, SEA [a tutoring program], San Diego schools, San Diego Public Libraries, and Boys and Girls Clubs, to help struggling students. Together, we completed 3500 hours of showing the potential of math and science in our society. TEAM’S INNOVATIVE METHOD TO SPREAD THE FIRST MESSAGE: Through conferences, presentations, and articles in Union Tribune, NBC, Preuss Insider, BusinessWire, and UCSD Publications, we spread FIRST to our community. Our alignment of FIRST to the California State Education Standards and Principals’ Forum teaches educators about FIRST. With the International Humanity Foundation, we are sponsoring kids in Indonesia and Kenya an education. Through monthly emails, letters, and webcam, we communicate gracious professionalism and self-sufficiency ideals.

TEAM’S COMMUNICATION AND RESULT: Simulating an engineering corporation, Team 812 is divided into subgroups of business administration to delegate and complete tasks efficiently. Communicate via weekly meetings, online blogs, listserv, website, and forums, we also have our PEMP [Pneumatics, Electrical, Mechanical, Programming], a liaison for the subgroups. We actively communicate with our sponsors and local legislatures to foster cohesiveness of FIRST. With Congress, we are working to promote FIRST and gracious professionalism. OTHER MATTERS OF INTEREST: We established a strong partnership with UCSD. In addition to mentoring our students, UCSD students, faculty, and engineers gives us insight on the college experience. Through UCSD, we work with Cal[IT]2 and Machine Perception Laboratory on piloting MAE3, a college-level engineering course, in local high schools. With UCSD EDS, we inform up-coming teachers about FIRST. We also speak about FIRST to young girls at the UCSD Sally Ride Festival. By supporting us, UCSD contributes to our success.


“In past years, we have always focused on what we didn’t have. Yes, we are still the same group of inner-city kids who come from poor families where no one has gone to college. Yes, we are still the disadvantaged children who had to struggle to put together a robot without the aid of a machine shop or engineering corporations. But you know what? We have grown to become so much more. Rich with diversity and opportunities to touch our community, we are Team 812.” -- Dan Rupert

Chairman’s Submission


ur story begins in 2001. We were a group of inner-city kids who came into FIRST with the goal to build a working robot. Now, 6 years later, we have risen above societies’ expectations. Although we may have been the latchkey kids, today, we are driving change in our society. This is the story of Team 812, the Midnight Mechanics: BREAKING GROUND At the Preuss School UCSD, a 6-12 grade charter school for low income, first-generation university bound students, we started 3 high school engineering courses, FLL, and VEX. Mentoring 4 FLL teams at Preuss, we also organize the San Diego Lego Challenge, an FLL tournament. FIRST teaches us the importance of outreach, entrepreneurship, and gracious professionalism. 100% of FIRST alumni go on to 4-year universities with 80% pursuing careers in math and science.

Organized into subgroups, Team 812 works like an engineering corporation. Each subgroup delegates and completes tasks efficiently. Divided into Arm, Drive Train, Electrical, and Programming sections, each student is dedicated towards one aspect of the robot. Our PEMP [Pneumatic, Electrical, Mechanical, Programming], a student leader, maintains collaboration among team members and cohesiveness of current goals. Our relationship with service organizations provides us not only with funds, but outreach, internship, and career opportunities as well. Students, professors, and engineers from UCSD mentor us throughout the season. We even have parents and alumni who volunteer during the build season. Our success is a result of the lasting partnership we built with our community. To capture our excitement of FIRST, we work with the Union Tribune, NBC, Preuss Insider, BusinessWire, and UCSD Publications. At Championships last year, the NewsHour


With the memories in my heart and experiences in mind, all that I have been given by my school and community.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE does not only embody who we are as a group, but it also depicts our struggle as a whole. each day, Team 812 has to go the extra mile to travel from our homes across thirty miles to get to school. It is this effort that unifies each proud member of Team 812.

with Jim Lehrer documented our team and our robot. They interviewed our mentor, Rob Mainieri, and alumni, Vu Hong and Angelina Saldivar. Angelina said, “I really didn’t think that I could do anything like this. I am a Hispanic female … being through the program taught me to believe in being able to achieve anything.” Expanding FIRST, we help started San Diego teams and founded TSD [Team San Diego] coalition. We offer younger teams mentors and workshops on grant writing, public speaking, and outreach. With Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, we provide $500-$2000 grants to TSD teams. Through monthly meetings, we help TSD in spreading FIRST ideals throughout Southern California. By supporting each other, showing the values of gracious professionalism, and offering guaranteed assistance, we foster collaboration throughout TSD.

Since our conception, we wanted to bring a regional to San Diego. After 6 years of campaigning, we are honored that FIRST recognized our efforts and inaugurated the San Diego Regional. PAVING THE ROAD It was only 3 years ago when we worked with UCSD and Cal[IT]2 [California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology] to pilot MAE3 [Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 3], a first-year college engineering course, at Preuss. We inspired other high schools to work with UCSD and Cal[IT]2 to launch MAE3. Seeing students benefit from the experience, 3 other high schools have incorporated MAE3 into their curriculum. We also work with the UCSD Machine Perception Laboratory to advance Project RUBI [Robot Using Bayesian Inference], a research project studying artificial intelligence through child/robot interactions. We build chassis parts and provide input for RUBI. In return, RUBI provides us mentors and connects us to the UCSD DLC [Dynamic Learning Center], an institution studying human learning. Funded by the National Science Foundation, Team 812 is the outreach portion of DLC. Piloting their Reach for Tomorrow Program, we provide internships, summer seminars, and training for inner-city students and teachers to prepare them for the classroom and college. In our neighborhoods, high quality teachers are in demand for our schools. Team 812 works with UCSD Department of Education Studies to train successful teachers for underperforming schools. We hold presentations during their discussions and are working towards engaging them in FIRST. They will shadow local teams as mentors and learn how to start successful teams of their own. With members from all demographics, backgrounds, and gender, Team 812 involves all


“We were the first in San Diego. As a result, it was our responsibility to be of use and assistance to other teams. Across the past six years, not only have we started new teams. We also went out of our way to help support them through the estbalishment of Team San Diego. Although there are times where it is difficult to just stand on your own two feet, we understand the importance of being able to reach out to others; those who are also in a time of desperate need. Regardless of whether or not we find our way, as the founding team we must lend a hand to those who are struggling. Now, many San Diego teams are self-sufficient. But, still as ever, the sharing of resources have proven to be the most powerful.” -- Summer Puente

students in robotics. To support the next generation of women engineers, we share our experience of FIRST to middle and high school girls at the UCSD Sally Ride Festival. We speak to eager parents and teachers about FRC, FLL, and VEX. Recognizing our dedication, San Diego City College invited us to participate in the City College Robotics Competition for female students. Working with college students and industry representatives, 3 girls from Team 812 will be building a robot for the competition in May. Taking the ideals of FIRST into our hearts, we demonstrate its impact in personal ways. Having grown up with little support, we make it our mission to aid underserved youth. Through BUDDY [Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth], our peer mentorship program, we spend 15 hours a week tutoring students at Preuss and Saturday Enrichment Academy, a program for students on academic probation. We host Science Nights and laboratory workshops at local schools. At San Diego Public Libraries and Boys and Girls Clubs, we help kids with their homework and teach them computer skills. Our target audience now includes homeless youth. With California Student Opportunity and Access Program, we pilot SAT/ACT programs at the Monarch School, a shelter for homeless teens. We even restore homeless shelters downtown and orphanages in Mexico. Our humanitarian efforts helps these kids embark on a better future. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park, we run monthly science activities and mentor kids in forensics, biology, robotics, aeronautics, and genetic exploration at the Fleet Summer Camp. Each fall, we hold our Principals’ Forum at the Fleet Center. We share the impact of FIRST to local educators and provide evidence of how engineering will improve schools.


We know the importance of helping kids whose lives are like ours. We want them to understand gracious professionalism and be prepared for college. Team 812 is paving the road for the next generation of success. GOING THE EXTRA MILE In our community, only 35% of students go to college. Team 812 created STEPS [Students Together for Education and the Promotion of Science], a scholarship-internship advocacy program, to change these statistics. We hold conferences for high school students to learn about summer programs at Temple University, John Hopkins, MIT, WPI, and UC schools. With NASA and National Institutes of Health, we promote research fellowships for college students across the nation. STEPS is the first successful advocacy program in the West. We collaborate with Cal[IT]2, UCSD Cancer Center, and Neurosciences Institute to provide internships for FIRST students. Students work in laboratories studying telecommunication, science education, and cognitive science. We also work with UCSD, USD, and SDSU to provide $5000-$15000 scholarships to cover tuition costs for first-generation college bound FIRST students.

“Outreach begins at home, but seems to have no end for Team 812,” said a Chairman’s Award Judge at the Southern California Regional. Across a span 6 years and 3500 hours, we continue to prove this statement true. With Congress, Team 812 is spreading the message of FIRST throughout the United States. In the beginning, we wrote letters and sent out regional invitations to our local legislatures. It wasn’t long before we made our first presentation to Lori Saldana [CA-76]. Later, Susan Davis [CA-53] pledged her support and engaged Nancy Pelosi [CA-8] to help us institute nationwide engineering education. They urged Congress to work with us to put the United States in the forefront of innovation. Making Team 812 a part of the history of the United States, they had our accomplishments documented in the permanent Congressional Record. In May, a student from our team will be visiting Washington DC to speak to Congress about FIRST. To increase the feasibility of expanding FIRST to other high schools in San Diego, Team 812 aligned FIRST to the California State Education Standards. We want to provide local school administrators proof of the role FIRST plays in all educational disciplines. We plan to bring our work to Jack O’Connell, California Superintendent of Education, and Congress to promote FIRST as a nationwide program. With the IHF [International Humanity Foundation], a humanitarian organization, we are helping educate children in Indonesia and Kenya. Each month, we organize fundraisers to sponsor an education in computer literacy, leadership, and English for these kids. We correspond with them monthly via email, letters, and webcam. Providing positive role models, Team 812 motivates them to understand that they can be self-sufficient and succeed despite their hardships. We plan to visit them and install solar panels in regions needing electricity.

We are helping these kids gain a deeper appreciation for themselves. Our ultimate goal is to have them go to college in the United States. Having won Regional and National Engineering Inspiration and consecutive Regional Chairman’s Awards, Team 812 continues our tradition of excellence. We have transformed a culture that was once known for its drop-out rates into one that is matriculating students prepared for college. Team 812 is a team whose legacy lives in our community. FIRST has guided us through the path of success to where we stand today. Despite our low socioeconomic status, we have risen above expectations. We will be the first in our families to go to college; to make a difference in our world. Although it may seem that we have come far already, we continue to go the extra mile. This is only the beginning.



BUDDY SEA SDPL SDBGC VSD SAVY STEPS MIT MITES JHU CTY TMARC WPI GEMS NASA NIH UCSD USD SDSU Cal[IT]2 MPLab RUBI DLC RTP NSF Cal-SOAP IHF Building Understanding and Determination in Developing Youth Saturday Enrichment Academy San Diego Public Libraries San Diego Boys and Girls Clubs Volunteer San Diego Students Actively Volunteering for You Students Together for Education and Promotion of Science MIT Minority Instroduction To Engineering and Science Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Temple University Minority Access to Research Careers WPI Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science National Aeronautics and Space Assocation National Institutes of Health University of California, San Diego University of San Diego San Diego State University California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology Machine Perception Laboratory Robot Using Bayesian Inference Dynamic Learning Center Reach for Tomorrow Program National Science Foundation California Student Opportunity and Access Program International Humanity Foundation