Robotics Team Wins State

CHS Robotics Team Wins State Championship
Posted on 02/27/2019
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Putting an exclamation point on the best season yet, the Carson High School robotics team, Cyber Mafia, was crowned state champions at the Nevada State FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Championship held in Las Vegas Saturday, Feb. 9.

By winning the state championship, the team will go on to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, also known as the World Festival, an international competition held this coming April 17-21 in Houston, Texas. 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, as well, by winning the robot game at the state championship.

The robotics team has 10 members alphabetically by last name: 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, Information Technology Essentials teacher at Carson High, Scot Duncan, parent and mentor and Sherri Kelley, Web Design, Flash Technology teacher at Carson High.

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 them the northern Nevada champions.

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 – 1st place (best team overall), Finalist Alliance Award - Captain (captain of the 2nd place alliance in the robot game tournament) and the Promote Award – 3rd place (video to promote FIRST and its robotics programs). This is the first time the team won the Inspire Award and became state champions.

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 their accomplishments in areas such as robot design, programming, CAD and community outreach, with awards for the best teams.

Additionally, team members won individual awards. Nanami 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. Nevan 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 ten winners of this prestigious award.

“This year has been a blast,” said Casanova 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.”

Coach, Parent and Mentor Scot 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.”

Liza McIlwee, mother of Nevan, the vice-captain of the team, noted “FIRST is such an amazing program, and attending the World Festival helps show these students just how big yet small our world really is. Students from all over the world come together in harmony to compete with one another. It’s almost like the Olympics of robots!”

The team appreciates the help it has received during the season, including Tesla Spark, Greater Nevada Credit Union, the Optimist Club of Reno and Sierra Nevada Junior Optimist International Club. With a trip required to attend the FIRST Championship in Houston this April, the team is looking for additional support. A GoFundMe page has been created for this purpose: For additional information or opportunities to help, please contact Sherri Kelley at Carson High School, 775-283-1817 or [email protected].