This is a look at the great history of Team 1649 LakerBotics LakerBotix E.M.S.
In the Fall of 2004, having seen the program first hand at a former school, Dr. Leigh Byron, then Headmaster of Windermere Preparatory School, contacted one of the parents of a student at the school about starting a FIRST Robotics Competition team. That parent was Dan Crowley and just happened to be the President of Lockheed Martin Simulation Training and Support. Dan asked his Vice President of Engineering, Chester Kennedy, to see if anyone was interested in supporting such a team. Chester embraced the idea and soon after, a company-wide email was sent out seeking volunteers. The response was a little disappointing, in fact the only one to respond was a Technician named Ed Grant. Not a single Engineer responded and the team almost ended before it ever began. Fortunately, Chester saw the value in the program and began personally asking his Directors to find supporters. Before long the word got to Mechanical Engineering Manager Arnaldo Santiago, he agreed to support the project and Team 1649 was born.
Beyond the clerical tasks necessary to register the team that were done by Dr. Byron’s administrative assistant, nothing more happened until the Kickoff Event on January 8th, 2005. Attended by three students, their parents and Ed, they all eagerly watched as the competition for that year was announced. After the presentation, while mingling with the other attendees, Ed was introduced to Doug Dixon, a veteran FIRST mentor from Walt Disney World, that was looking for a new team to support. Although his availability was limited, thankfully, Doug decided to join the fledgling team.
Not understanding the time-critical nature of the build season, everyone at the kickoff went home. The next day, the three students from the kickoff, joined by two other students, mentors Arnaldo & Ed, and Dr. Byron all met for the first time. The Team 1649 rookie year build season had begun!
Over the next two weeks, three more students and Arnaldo’s friend, Rich Cannon from SAAB Training, joined the team. During this time Teacher Jackie Brantley also became acquainted with the team. Jackie officially took over as the team leader in the fall of 2005 and has been with the team ever since.
In a program normally geared towards Juniors and Seniors in High School, Team 1649 comprised of two each, 6th, 7th 8th & 9th graders, was the youngest team in the league. Also, with only 8 students, was one of the smallest. Neither of those facts discouraged the members of the team that would go on to lead the #3 alliance at the 2005 Florida Regional and make it all the way to the semi-finals.
For details about each of the team’s competition years, please visit the individual pages listed below.