Leaving the Team

After four great years, my time as an FRC student has come to an end. I’ve gotten to witness some pretty amazing things with some incredible people, and I will never forget that. Now that I have moved away and am now watching the team from afar I really understand FIRST. I had a great time behind the glass, in front of judges, at workshops, and in our shop.. but now I get to see my friends experience it behind the same safety glasses.


Though I may not agree with every line written in the essay, every word spoken at a meeting, every decision made, I am proud. I’m proud of my friends and my team and what they have all become. Everyone in my graduating class has worked dang hard to get where they are, especially my two fellow four year team mates (now alumni, i suppose). And 399 now has a new name for itself. In my four years, Eagle Robotics has completely stepped up its game and transformed its image, and I’m excited to say that the 2015-2016 incoming freshmen will get to say the same once they leave. Freshman year seems like a lifetime ago, but I accomplished everything I set out to do in my time.


I’ll miss the drive team, Chairman’s presenters, mentors, camera crew, and especially the memories I’ve made along the way.. but I’m already reaching out to other teams to pass on the legacy. Helping an FLL team, and FRC team, and registering as a FIRST volunteer is filling me with pride. I can’t wait to help out more bright minded individuals to accomplish their own goals, and watch them pay it forward.


My senior year we presented Chairman’s at worlds, and I will never forget what one of the judges said to me as we walked out of the room. From a man in a blue polo I heard him chuckle “Don’t worry, FIRST doesn’t have an exit plan” Whether that was in response to me having officially given my last chairman’s speech, or awkwardly tripping over my chair as I stood up to leave, it stuck to heart.


FIRST will forever be a part of my life. Thanks Dean, Woody, and everyone back home at 399.

I love you guys.




Dear Rookies,

"Rookie." This is the term you will get used to being referred to as during your first year on 399. It is not a negative term, rather it is just a shorter name than the general phrase "new member(s)." So, don't be offended. Instead, own it. 

Failure leads to success, so don't be afraid to ask questions and throw out crazy ideas. As you will often hear Mr. Chambers say, "There are no mistakes, only opportunities to excel." It might take a little while for you to get used to things, but that's perfectly okay. By build season, which starts in January, you will be fairly adjusted to the team as long as you use your resources for training well. Keep in mind that this is the first year we are training using Robotics University, but as long as you are open minded and determined to learn, I am sure you will be able to get the most out of it. 

I was a rookie just last year and since joining I have had some amazing times that have turned into my favorite memories. We are just as much fun and games as we are robot and outreach. As a piece of advice, make sure to utilize however many years you have on the team, whether it be one or four, because the best thing you can do is leave a positive mark on 399 before you leave and graduate high school. I will only have had a total of two years on the team as a student, but I can honestly say that I have grown in ways I didn't anticipate and that should be your goal as well. 

We have been able to say that we have made a positive impact as an FRC team and that should continue with you. Be enthusiastic in your journey to innovate and inspire, because "nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). 

Good luck with your first year... but just to warn you, you will love it. 



Brianna Mariotti (fellow Eagle and Co-Manager)




The Legacy Rises

It is March 30, 2015 and my throat hurts. My best friend, Isabel Marquez, and I made it our goal to lose our voices from cheering so much by the end of the Ventura Regional. We may not have lost our voices, but my soar throat reminds me of the best weekend I've had yet. We started out with a trip to San Buena Ventura Beach and ended in having made it to semifinals, being the recipients of the Creativity Award for the second time this year, and winning the most prestigious award within FIRST. 

We held our "Phoenix" and "Eagles!" signs high from day 1 of Ventura, not knowing how much our efforts would pay off. We ranked 6th by the end of qualifications matches and became the 4th seeded alliance captain and were joined by Team 1458 Red Tie Robotics and Team 4 Element. Our matches were so close that I was literally jumping up and down in anticipation and couldn't take my eyes off the field. We almost made it to the finals and that alone is an extraordinary feeling. 

As a Chairman's presenter and our Public Outreach Sub-team Leader, I know how much work went into our Chairman's submission. Us Chairman's presenters practiced, practiced, practiced, and a multitude of students worked hard to portray our message in the rest of the submission, from essays to video. When we stepped into the room we were greeted by the smiles of two women in blue polos. Both our presentation and question and answer period went smoothly, but I did not expect to actually win. When we did, though, I was overwhelmed with pride. In fact, I cried even before our team was called because of all the hints that so obviously pointed to us as the winners, and sobbed when our video played on the large screen.  

Winning the Chairman's award for two consecutive years recognizes our success in promoting STEM and making an impact. As our presentation says "we strive to leave a lasting legacy." We have done and are continuing to do just that.



Time just flies by

The team is moving from build to competition and it’s incredibly astonishing how quick time flies by. I have nothing to compare this build season with, but I do have faith in that this will be a great season for the team. Every day I go into the shop I see progress, big and small. I can tell that this year is a little different than previous years, but we were warned that change would come and it definitely has.

Being that I have decided to take on the challenge of being a Chairman’s presenter I have learned so much about Team 399 and its origin; but, anyone can recite information they've attained from researching, whereas only I can depict how I have been personally affected by FIRST. Presenting information is different than telling a story and our Chairman’s committee is dedicated to being the narrators of ours. I am excited. I am nervous. Most of all though, I am proud.

We have poured much time into the Chairman's efforts; from our newly established booklet to our presentation. One of  the greatest reliefs for our Public Outreach Sub-team was the completion of our mini-essays by the end of the first week of build. Ahead of the game, we dedicated our time to making sure that our legacy was clearly represented throughout Chairman's as a whole. Our presentation started off as being words and ideas scattered on a white board, but soon enough those ideas came together with the help of our new mentor Kendal Lenton. A week prior to Inland two professional public speakers of Shoptalk Toastmasters volunteered their time to act as a mock panel of judges. For some reason, I got a rush of adrenaline as soon as I walked into the room and just couldn't help but smile throughout the whole presentation, even the parts that I wasn't speaking. We recorded our presentation and the feedback that the Toastmasters gave us and reviewed it in order to improve. Once the Inland Empire was just days away, it hit us that we would no longer just be practicing, but actually presenting soon enough. Although we did not win, we Inland Empire was a great learning experience for both Chairman's and robot.

Inland Empire 2015 was my very first regional. It was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to learn what we, as a team, need to improve on.  We had won the Creativity award and by the end of qualification matches we were ranked 11th and competed in the quarterfinals as a part of the 5th seeded alliance along with Team 2375, Dragon Robotics and alliance captain Team 3965 Sultans. Throughout the regional I was constantly learning.  remember walking into the Chairman's judging room and expecting to be nervous, but nerves did not overwhelm me, only joy. 

I can’t say that I know everything about the bot or the building process, but I can say that it has and will continue to all come together. We will take advantage of every opportunity we come across to accomplish what we set out to do: build a bot kicking robot, and tell our story.



Even as a rookie...

I can go on and on about the things like Battle at the Border or the High Desert Lego Tournament or even a simple event like our Egg-Stronaut Workshop for kids, but I choose not to. Why? Well, because although it seems like these are the things that matter the most as a robotics member, they truly aren't. In reality, day to day challenges and workload are what make the Robotics Experience.

Everyday since joining I've spent some length of time working on something Robotics related. It's become a big part of my life and I am more than okay with that. I've been pushed to step up and lead. I've been pushed to overcome challenges. Without being pushed by FIRST, I'm almost positive that I would have never seen my potential.

The time, dedication, and investment I and other students put into being an Eagle has proved that we have what it takes to be more than average.



Addicted to FIRST

It's December 8th and two days earlier was the Monrovia FTC competition. It was my very first FTC competition and I was slightly nervous. Team 399 has two daughter teams: Team 72 Garage Bots and Team 8973 Totes MaGoats Robotics. At the end of the day neither of our teams made it past qualifications nor received an award, but still I can say I left Monrovia with some pride.

Members from 72 GarageBots and 8973 Totes MaGoats at the competition

We received many questions about our drive trains, because on both 72 and 8973 bots we used a West Coast Drive. We would explain that we were inspired by our experience on FRC Team 399. I had no idea that Eagle Robotics was "a big deal" in our region until someone put their hand to her chest and gasped to say that she is a big fan of us and even went so far to say that our website is one of her favorites. That is an AMAZING feeling: to know that I am part of such a great team and that we inspire people enough to be idolized.

I am extremely proud to say that I am an Eagle. I wish I would have joined the team my freshman year rather than my junior year. I will only get two years of being in robotics and maybe it's the rookie in me but two years is just not enough. When I graduate I know I'll miss the team most of all, but I also know that all the ties and connections I have and will continue to make won't just disappear. Even as a rookie I am aware that the FIRST life isn't just something you can walk away from easily.




Chezy Champs

Chezy Champs 2014: my very first competition with the team. I don't remember being nervous or scared, but intimidated, yes. The bus ride to San Jose went by extremely quick as did everything as a whole. Part of me wishes I could go back and repeat everything, even the stepping into our hotel room and re-smelling the scent of dead cats and cigarettes, but the rational part of me definitely goes against that. When I first stepped out of the bus I didn't know what to expect but I did know that the experience would be enough in itself. 

Highlights of Chezy:

Going to Safeway... It felt like we were all on a showing of Cutthroat Kitchen or Chopped! We were all running around the store because we're all a bunch of fattys that were only given 15 minutes to get what we wanted... and we wanted everything!

Judges Award! "The day to day activities in the team's shop would make any team proud - rookie teams scattered about, building their bots with experienced veteran mentors, but it's what happens upstairs in this team's facility that got the judges attenti...on. There are many phenomenal outreach programs in FRC, but this team really takes it to the next level. For example, they not only hold an annual summer camp - they fundraise so that kids can attend for free. They not only create a game, they produce a game animation so that their campers can get the full experience. Not only do they do "Robot Read Aloud" and play with the kids at the local Barnes and Noble, they do it for the first Friday of every month--for years, and make it a local tradition. And when the judges asked what they take the most pride in, they said it was in making the contribution to the community. This team doesn't just get it off the ground, they really make it soar." It's awesome knowing that I chose to be part of our Public Outreach sub-team and that I'll be helping with these events more as the season goes on.

Bus ride back, because charades is totally awesome! We all played charades on my phone and it's funny what people know. Considering we are a robotics team I should have been prepared for everyone (but me) to know the names of every single video game. Well, now I know!

And just being there. The experience was, to be honest and cheesy, awesome and I definitely want to do it again, whether it means going to a  regional or attending Chezy Champs next year. 




Our team of students who attended Chezy

Our Judge's award!!

Our team cheering on our robot during a match

A few members of our team taking a selfie up in the stands...



New Year; New Experiences

Its a new school year so I, Brianna Mariotti, decided to do something new: join robotics. Not only am I trying something new, but so is the robotics team itself, which happens to be this very blog. I've already realized that robotics is so much more than building a robot. I was told this multiple times before I even joined, but I couldn't wrap my head around how in a club titled "robotics" only a fraction of the time is donated to the robot itself. There's so much more than what's seen from the external point of view, even more than the sub-teams that aren't thought of as much. So, this is where this blog comes in; to share the innermost layer of Team 399, being the students ourselves.