Carson High robotics team wins state title

One of the Carson High Robotics team's robots.

One of the Carson High Robotics team's robots.

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The Carson High School robotics team Cyber Mafia was crowned state champions at the Nevada State FIRST Tech Challenge Championship held Feb. 9 in Las Vegas.

By winning the state championship, the team will go on to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Championship, also known as the World Festival, an international competition held April 17 to 21 in Houston. Since the team started in 2012, this will be the third time it has reached the highest level of competition within FIRST, making appearances in 2013 and 2017 by winning the robot game at the state championship.

The robotics team has 10 members: Michael Carine, Nanami Duncan, Amelia Graul, Tiffani Hodges, Sarai Juaregui-Rivas, Nevan McIlwee, Amber Murray, Alex Ridley, Casanova Segura and Andrius Stankus. The coaches are Josh Barham, CHS Information Technology Essentials teacher; Scot Duncan, parent and mentor; and Sherri Kelley, CHS Web Design and Flash Technology teacher.

The team posted consistent results throughout the season, entering the Northern Nevada FTC League Championship in January ranked second in the robot game. The team was knocked out of the tournament in the semifinals but won the top judged award, making it the Northern Nevada champion.

The team had two weeks to make its final preparations for the state championship, where it won multiple awards, including the top prize, Inspire Award – first place (best team overall), the Finalist Alliance Award - Captain (captain of the second place alliance in the robot game tournament) and the Promote Award – third place (video to promote FIRST and its robotics programs). This is the first time the team won the Inspire Award and became a state champion.

FTC is one of four robotics programs organized by FIRST. Among the 615,000 students participating in FIRST programs worldwide, there are more than 7,000 FTC teams. FTC competitions consist of team interviews in front of a panel of judges, as well as randomly seeded robot game matches followed by an elimination tournament for the teams with the best records. The judge interviews allow the team to demonstrate its accomplishments in areas such as robot design, programming, CAD and community outreach.

Additionally, team members won individual awards. Duncan was selected as one of two finalists in the state for the Dean’s List Award, named for the founder of FIRST, inventor Dean Kamen. McIlwee was named as a semifinalist for this award. The award is given to team members who best exemplify accomplishments in all areas of the program, including technical skills, outreach and community service. Duncan will now go on to compete against finalists from North America to become one of 10 winners of this prestigious award.

“This year has been a blast,” said Segura, the captain of the team. “I am very proud of the team and all we have achieved. I would like to thank our coaches and mentors, who helped make this possible.”

Duncan received the Compass Award, given to the coach or mentor who had the biggest impact on his or her team.

“It has been a joy to work with this team,” he said. “I’ve been impressed with how well they work together and complement each other’s skills. That’s the key ingredient that makes a good team a winning team.”


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