Edison and Ford Winter Estates' Robotics Team Wins Award at World Championship!


FORT MYERS, Fla. (April 24, 2023) -- The Edison and Ford Winter Estates' (EFWE) FIRST LEGO League Challenge robotics team, "Assembly Required," competed in the World Championship on April 19 to 22, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, winning one of the top awards and the only major award won by a US team, being named Core Values World Champions! The FIRST LEGO League World Robotics Festival hosted the top 108 teams from 59 countries. The core areas of judging and thus awards are Robot Performance, Robot Design, Innovation Project, and the Core Values of Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork, and Fun. Core Values are formally judged throughout the competition, including in the 45-minute judging interviews, every individual robot game, but are also assessed during other interactions and observations throughout the events. 

The judging session includes prepared presentations and interviews in which all team members share their work in all areas over the course of the season. They were asked about their challenges and how they overcame them, and truly impressed the judges with how they operate primarily as a student-led team–coaches facilitating and guiding, but not directing their work–and including all team members in all areas of work so that students can take on specific roles and may focus some of their work, but all assist with facets of robot and project work. Additionally, the team has intentionally brought on younger members every year for a more sustainable approach with older or more experienced team members teaching newer team members, and often it has been that the younger team members are teaching the older students specific skills or techniques, programs, or applications. Anyone operating in any capacity is encouraged to share what they learn for the betterment of the team. The Edison Ford Robotics Program took another step towards sustainability this year by starting a brand new mentee team composed primarily of younger rookie members with little or no previous robotics experience. They worked together for a portion of their practice time each week and some team members stayed to assist the new team after their own practice time concluded.

Pearce Augustenborg, Head Coach and EFWE Education Coordinator shared, “With such a large team, it can be very difficult to involve all students and get even production from all students. The judges get a good sense of this during the interviews, which were intensive at Worlds. I was so impressed with how all of our students stepped up. I have never seen a more cohesive and inclusive judging session. Every student participated and answered questions in nearly equal measure. I believe this is a big part of why the team received this very prestigious award.” 

Outside of the formal judging session, “Assembly Required” assisted another team in the official Robot Games when the other team competing on their tables nearly had to forfeit their match due to time constraints. “Assembly Required” team members recognized the cause of their issue and quickly walked them through how to correct it in time to compete, demonstrating the FIRST concept of “Coopertition” by cooperating with and supporting competitors. The team participated in a supplemental spontaneous challenge, joining forces with a team from Estonia and were honored for their “Gracious Professionalism” in working with and supporting the team in that alliance. The team’s youth mentor, Delaney Baucom, a former “Assembly Required” team member since inception in 2018 and current FIRST Tech Challenge team member of “Java the Hutts” was also recognized with a special Woodie Flowers Gracious Professionalism lapel pin for her continued support, volunteering, and mentorship with the Edison Ford Robotics Program teams to inspire others in FIRST. Dr. Woodie Flowers coined the terms “Coopertition” and “Gracious Professionalism” as philosophies essential to the ethos of FIRST along with the Core Values, in the interest of creating a supportive and encouraging environment with friendly sportsmanship and respect for others. FIRST teams and team members are expected to embody the Core Values on and off the field, which is precisely what this team has shown.

The FIRST LEGO League World Festival was part of the FIRST Championship, encompassing all levels of FIRST programs including 55 FIRST LEGO League Explore teams serving ages five to nine, 108 FIRST LEGO League Challenge teams serving ages nine to fourteen, 192 FIRST Tech Challenge teams serving seventh to twelfth graders, and 619 FIRST Robotics Competition teams serving ninth to twelfth graders. Over 18,000 students competed in the events and over 50,000 people attended the four days of events. FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, hence the acronym and the enormous undertaking of the organization and all programs to provide high-energy experiences for students to showcase their innovation, problem-solving, and learning in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. 

The “Assembly Required” team includes nine students in sixth through ninth grade from six different schools in two counties: sixth grader, Dhira Sharma of Canterbury School; seventh graders, Nash Baucom and Eyan Datil of Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School; eighth grader, Leah Chung of St. Francis Xavier Catholic School; ninth graders, Siddharth Chaudhari, Pranav Devaguptapu, and Tanish Madhar of Fort Myers High School; ninth grader, Nishini Fernando of Dunbar High School; ninth grader, Topher Fontana of Gulf Coast High School in Collier County. The team has practiced weekly to work together on their robot design and attachments, their strategy and programming to score in the robot game autonomously, and also build an innovation project around this season’s energy theme, to prepare for the competition. After Hurricane Ian’s storm surge flooded their practice space in the garage bay of the Edison caretaker's house, only a few weeks into their season and taking on five brand new team members, the team rallied to meet at a team member’s home once power was restored, so they could try to regain momentum and come together planning the work for the season. Their perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity was demonstrated through their hard work and many successes throughout the season, but to culminate with a prestigious World Championship Award, is a true honor.

To support the Edison Ford Robotics Program and the teams, EFWE is accepting donations. To donate today, visit EdisonFord.org and select the education option on the donate page, or call 239-334-7419. Current sponsors include TLC Engineering Solutions, Ronin Riding Club of SWFL, Scientists Society of SWFL, Blue Waters Development Group, Florida Power & Light, Lee County Electric Cooperative, Entech, Edison National Bank, Paydit, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Matco Tools, ESG Kullen Communities, and AMR Painting. To sponsor the program or the teams, please email sponsorship@edisonfordwinterestates.org with “Robotics Sponsorship” in the subject line.

World Championship Pit

Airzooka Brigade with Fans

Woodie Flowers Pinning with Desh Bagley

Visiting with Team Dream Squad

World Championship Robot Run

Encore Challenge with Estonian Team


"Team actively works together to ensure success among the team."

"Keep mentoring and inspiring other teams!"

"Your team has a true connection. We love the matching shoes!"

"Everyone on the team had an active role in all areas. We loved that everyone has a chance to launch a mission at the Robot Table."

"Your mentorship of a new team and presenting about FLL to elementary schools was awesome as well as the outreach events you did."

"You ensured that everyone has an active role on the team. Your team has great energy and passion!"

"The innovation you used to keep working as a team after being displaced by Hurricane Ian was inspiring."