This year’s Orange County Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, held at the OC Fair & Event Center, was a great success! With 48 teams participating, the weekend went smoothly, despite a messy, rainy final day of competition.

Marie Castelo, of longtime regional sponsor Parker Aerospace, kicked off the first day of competition with an inspiring welcome during Opening Ceremonies. That evening, the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award was presented to Jacob Poole, mentor for team 589, and the Volunteer of the Year was presented to longtime volunteers and members of the Regional Planning Committee, Marge Brannon and Kris Ponmalai.

On the final day, new regional sponsor Altair’s Keshav Sundareth welcomed everyone, sharing ideas about how teams can make use of Altair’s software, as well as some well-received “dad jokes!”

The playoffs were highly competitive, with well-matched alliances delivering thrilling matches, and a very excited team 8033 Highlander Robotrics received the FIRST Impact Award, making for an exciting end to a great Orange County Regional!



FIRST Impact Award

The FIRST Impact Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.   

The FIRST Impact Award is presented to the team judged to have the most significant measurable impact of its partnerships among its participants and community over a sustained period, not just a single build season. The winner is able to demonstrate progress towards FIRST’s mission of transforming our culture.  The recipient team will be invited to a FIRST Championship where it will compete for the FIRST Impact Award against winners from other qualifying events.

  • Team 8033, Highlander Robotics from Piedmont, CA

Tackling community challenges head-on with innovative STEM solutions, this team rallies together from far and wide. They identified community needs-designing, soldering, and changing lives. Using their coding chops to support the FIRST community, they should feel proud to carry the banner of their purple lion mascot.

    Engineering Inspiration

    The Engineering Inspiration Award celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community.  This team will advance to the Championships and receive a $5000 NASA grant toward registration.


    This team runs STEM-focused summer programs, hosts FLL tournaments, showcases a high excellence in engineering design, and has established strong connections within its local community and sponsor network. Their presence was felt every corner at this event, helping whoever they could. This ORANGE team has truly cracked the CODE to fulfilling FIRST’s mission.

    Regional Winners

    • Team 7153, μBotics from Brea, CA  (Championship Qualifying Award)
    • Team 3476, Code Orange from Irvine, CA (Championship Qualifying Award)
    • Team 5285, Sea Kings Robotics from Palos Verde Estates, CA (Championship Qualifying Award – wildcard)

    Dean’s List Finalist

    In an effort to recognize the leadership and dedication of FIRST’s most outstanding FRC students, the Kamen family sponsors an award for selected top students known as the FIRST Dean’s List. This award celebrates a student’s outstanding leadership and effectiveness in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers, both within their school, as well as their community. FIRST Dean’s List Finalists will compete at the championship for the FIRST Dean’s List.

    • Ciel D – Team 5924, Golden Gate Robotics
    • Vaughn K – Team 8033, Highlander Robotics

    Woodie Flowers Finalist Award

    FIRST stands apart from other competitions in STEM and sports due to the FIRST Ethos of Gracious Professionalism, the concept of Coopertition, and the commitment to the FIRST Core Values. The guiding force behind these principles was Dr. Woodie Flowers. Dr. William Murphy, Jr., who was instrumental in creating the concept of FIRST with Dean Kamen, recognized the unique perspective, wisdom, and communication style that Woodie brought to the FIRST Robotics Competition.

    In honor of Woodie, Dr. Murphy founded the Woodie Flowers Award in 1996. He recognized that the FIRST ethos would be carried forward by our FIRST mentors and sought to celebrate those mentors who demonstrate the leadership, ethical behavior, and communication skills exemplified by Woodie. Woodie believed “societies get the best of what they celebrate”.

    Being recognized by students, through nomination essays, makes this honor very meaningful to mentors. It is truly an honor for a mentor to be nominated for this award.

    •  Jacob Poole – Team 589, Falkon Robotics

    Additional Awards

    Congratulations to the Teams and individuals that earned the remaining awards at the Orange County Regional! See the list here