Falkon Robotics Team Wins Engineering Award at FIRST Competition


Hard work to build an efficient and beautiful robot pays off for Falkon team members.

Photo provided by Falkon robotics.
The Crescenta Valley High School robotics team earned a place at the Houston FIRST competition after scoring well in the Long Beach arena.


Renewable energy is all around us. In the future, collecting this energy to power cities will be a commonplace task. But today, collecting this energy is still in the realm of games and thought exercises. One such game may actually be the way to make this future a reality, however. FIRST Robotics competition is encouraging tomorrow’s engineers and scientists to get involved at a young age. Through its yearly build-a-robot-and-play competition, students are given a task and then have to build a robot to complete the task of the game. This year’s task involved collecting power cells to energize a city’s force field.

Team 589, the Falkon robotics team from Crescenta Valley High, completed this task so well that it won the Engineering Inspiration Award at the FIRST Robotics Competition in Long Beach. According to FIRST Robotics, the Engineering Inspiration Award “celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school or organization and community.”

And, by that standard, it’s no wonder the award went to CV’s team.

This year’s robot was a cut above the already impressive designs of previous robots and is something to be proud of, said team mentor Lyn Repath-Martos, adding that pride was not only for the students who designed and built it, but for the whole community who helped get this robot, named Anakin, together.

“The team set forth an ambitious plan to retrieve power cells from the floor and deliver them to the high goal,” Repath-Martos said. “These are both engineering challenges that the team has not worked designs for previously, and loads of really great learning opportunities resulted from the new challenges. As we have modest machining facilities at CV, the team had to work collaboratively with the machine shop class and instructor at Glendale High School and also with the machine shop at Pasadena City College to mill the plates for the turret system. Extra care was given this year to the visual design of the robot, utilizing polycarbonate sheeting to create the power cell storage and turret – this allows for visibility into how many power cells are inside the system at a time, and made a really sleek, beautiful robot.

“Finally, our electronics and pneumatics subsystems worked hard to make their systems really sleek and clean – the result is a really attractive and effective robot! For me, personally, watching this very large team of nearly 90 members work together to create this system, and all of the supporting elements needed for competition – such as practice field pieces, visually attractive pit design, delightfully engaging giveaways, and clear and coherent materials detailing team activities – is the most amazing experience of all. They are awesome.”

For the students, it was more than just a team. It’s a family. From drivers to welders to programmers, all on the team has their part to play and they celebrate each success as a group.

“It’s amazing being a part of this team. Everyone on 589 is supportive and it’s like a second family,” said Kimberly Miller, a junior who is on the team for the third year. “Working with them is a wonderful experience because even when we get close to competition and the stress is high everyone continues to cooperate and realizes that it’s not about those final results but about the people that you impact and the lessons you learn on the way.”

The next step for the team is to go to the championship competition in Houston in mid-April. For the team, this is a life-changing experience.

“I am ecstatic about going to Houston as I went last year and it was one of the best weeks of my life. It really is an amazing experience to see all these different ideas and solutions to the challenges in the game, and the creativity is simply incredible,” said Eric Limonadi, who won the Dean’s List Award at the competition. “You also get to meet teams from around the world. There are FRC teams in Switzerland, China, Turkey, the Netherlands, Mexico, and more. Going to championships is something that no one forgets.”

For more information, visit FIRSTinspires.org.