Since 2001, Team 812 matured into a team of 53 students, 100% from low socioeconomic backgrounds who will be the first in their families to go to college – an amazing feat for a team that was once the ONLY FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team in San Diego.
Since our humble beginnings, we’ve realized the importance of mentorship, teamwork, and gracious professionalism and, as a result, have made it our top priority to spread the gospel of FIRST to every high school in San Diego.
Over the past 8 years, Team 812 has been instrumental in the starting and mentoring of 21 FRC teams in San Diego. We take great pride in seeing the room fill up beyond capacity each year at the annual FIRST Kick Off and Team San Diego Pre-Ship Expo and knowing that, because of our extensive efforts to start new teams in our early years, we inspired other teams to make it their mission to expand the San Diego FIRST community as well.
However, since losing our primary mentor and our veteran members in the 2006-2007 Season, Team 812 recognized the importance of not only starting new FRC teams, but fostering sustainability of FRC teams as well. To these ends, we provide annual training sessions, workshops, and team-building activities that foster the nurturing of student leaders within these teams to ensure their sustainability and longevity year after year. We want all FIRST teams – JFLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC teams – to be able to express their excitement for math, science, and engineering without worrying whether or not they’ll be around the next season. And, to do that, we have been spreading the importance of transforming teams from being “robotics competition teams” to “student-run businesses.”
We encourage teams to create team handbooks, business plans, and documentation that ensure the transfer of information from one generation of their team to another. Above all, we work with individual students on each San Diego FIRST team to help them make the transition into being a “student-run business.” While constant support from adult mentors is extremely important, the FIRST experience is compromised when teams begin to take credit for the things their mentors have done, rather than things they themselves initiate, organize, and follow through with.
As crusaders, Team 812 has traveled to individual teams throughout San Diego, driving up to 36 miles just to ask teams, “How can we help you today? What can we do for you?” We are the ONLY team in San Diego to do this. Why? Because we know how hard it is to be stuck, to want to realize your fullest potential but is stymied because of lack of resources and assistance. To these ends, Team 812 provides incomparable mentorship for FIRST teams as far south as Chula Vista and as far north as Escondido.
Last year, team 2154, 2543, and 2599 were totally shocked that we drove all the way down to Chula Vista (and for some of us: 3 buses and a trolley) just to help them with their robot, public relations, and speak with them about the upcoming regional. Our dedication to providing mentorship to new teams resulted in 2543 winning Regional Rookie Inspiration (San Diego) and Regional Rookie All-Star (Colorado) and 2599 winning Regional Rookie All-Star (San Diego) and Championship Rookie Inspiration (Atlanta, GA)!
In the spirit of starting new FRC teams in San Diego, Team 812 adopted local high schools, such as La Jolla Country Day and University City High School, into our team to give them the FIRST experience! Through such an adoption program we enable students, teachers, and even parents at these schools the ability to start, fund, manage, and maintain a successful FRC team that builds both competitive robots, but leaders within the community as well.
The students and mentors from these respective high schools attend meetings and are engaged in both the building of the robot and community outreach. We walk them through the process of brainstorming and show them the initial process of building a robot. Additionally, we provide them evidence that an FRC team is more than just a “robotics team” – we inspire them to take the same inspiration that inspired them to get involved with FIRST to other students in the community. We also demonstrate the dynamics of a successful student-run team that relies on limited adult support. We want their students to be driven to lead the team themselves and turn to their advisors for guidance or help only when they need it.
We want to prove to them that they can both build a robot in six, short weeks and make a difference in their communities!
Last year, we also adopted the Oceanside School for Business and Technology and took them with us to the San Diego Regional! Their students – all 24 of them – were so blown away by the competition that they came back to school excited to start a FIRST team. However, during the summer of 2008, their school closed down. Even in light of that, we continue to maintain contact with their students at their respective new high schools and will be taking them with us to competitions again in 2009!
This season, we were really happy when La Jolla High School formed an FRC team. We remember the early days of trying to convince their mentor to start an FRC team to the days where we had them over at Preuss after school to walk them through the registration process. We were amazed when their students took the lead in forming a team and were so honored to share all of our resources with them. Because of the challenges of the new control system, our mentors spent weekends at their school helping students program.
In all, our team’s relentless spirit and dedication to FIRST has led to the growth of the San Diego FIRST community from 1 FRC team to 21 FRC teams! Maturing from the days where we had relatively very little and building on the years we spent championing to bring a FIRST Regional to San Diego, Team 812 has grown to recognize our role in our community and our responsibility to keep on spreading the message of FIRST everywhere we go.
Team 812's 2009 game robot, nicknamed Biz (the 812 looks like "BIZ") took six weeks to plan and build. They've definitely done a good job. Biz helped make team 812 history. It was their first time making it to the semi finals!
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