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March 12, 2013 > RoboKnights and Alliance Partners Win Northern CA Championship

RoboKnights and Alliance Partners Win Northern CA Championship

Submitted By Lily Kon

Thirty six robotics teams, the winners of Qualifying Tournaments of the 2012-2013 season across Northern California, came together to compete at the prestigious Northern California FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Championship tournament at Newark Memorial High School, Newark CA, on Feb. 23 & 24, 2013. RoboKnights, a team of four 7th and 8th graders from Fremont, the youngest team in the tournament, and one of the youngest in the country, competed with high school teams from all over Northern California. RoboKnights, along with Alliance Partner captain, Basilisks, of Pacifica and Topsy-Turvy of Newark, demonstrated outstanding performance and won the Championship, in fierce competition.

RoboKnights teammates - Armaan Kalyanpur (Grade 8), Alvin Kong (Grade 7), Shalin Shah (Grade 7), and Eric Zhu (Grade 7), three of whom are from Hopkins Junior High School in Fremont, started as an FLL (First Lego League) team when they were in 3rd grade and advanced to FTC last year, with an outstanding performance. "These students have proven their mettle against tough competition with their exemplary teamwork, tireless effort, and intellectual vigor to engineer innovative robots and dynamically adapt their game strategy on the playing field", said Coach Nimish Shah. The students were originally brought together as a team by legendary chess coach Joe Lonsdale, who trained this chess team, of Mission San Jose Elementary to win the California Grade Level Chess Championship every year from Kindergarten to 6th grade, and led the Chess team to win the 2009 National Chess Championship. "I am proud of these kids, delighted to see their thriving friendship extend from chess into other pursuits of their young life, and look forward to watching them grow, with their friendship and their achievements...", said Joe Lonsdale.

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics Tournament is organized under the auspices of F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,, a program that has received recognition by the US Congress Committee on Education and Labor as a model program. FIRST Robotics competitions demand intense brainstorming to solve complex problems as a team under tight time constraints. The process fosters intellectual bonding and teamwork that has been equated to the exemplary teamwork among the top-notch engineering teams of famous high-technology companies.

FIRST has about 12,000 teams in 40 countries at the First Lego League (FLL) level, targeted at Junior High School students. Only one of out of about ten teams advances to the next level of challenge, First Tech Challenge (FTC), targeted at the high school students.

RoboKnights has volunteered to mentor other aspiring Robotics enthusiasts, and has already helped start two First Lego League Robotics teams, providing their field equipment and guidance. In the weeks of intense preparation leading up to the tournament, RoboKnights continued to take the time to inspire the next generation of Roboteers. They demonstrated their robot to aspiring young minds at "Open Make: Robots" at The Tech Museum of innovation and shared the joy of Robotics at the Fremont main library on February 2, 2013, explaining the robotics programs to a large group of children and parents.

RoboKnights can be contacted at For those interested in watching the 21st century sport of Robotics in action at a tournament, 56 Championship Tournaments across the world are taking place in late February and March, with the World Championship in St. Louis, MO on April 24-27.

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