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Society of Women Engineers

The Midnight Mechanics Are Honored to be a SWE-Sponsored Team

Our team proudly holds a near 1:1 female to male ratio, and currently represents over 9 ethnic and linguistic minorities from all over San Diego county.

Published On: February 2018

Welcome to Team 812, The Midnight Mechanics! We are honored to be selected as a recipient of the SWE Gender Diversity Grant.

Team 812, the first team in San Diego, was founded in 2001 by Rob Mainieri, the first national Woodie Flowers winner west of the Mississippi. We receive consistent support from our school, The Preuss School UCSD, a Title I school designed for low-income students, who aspire to be the first in their families to attend a four year university. Our team proudly holds a near 1:1 female to male ratio, and currently represents over 9 ethnic and linguistic minorities from all over San Diego county.

Our Philosophy

Our mission, developed through FIRST, is to help everyone recognize that they have the potential to pursue STEAM and the capability to initiate change from within. Utilizing the philosophy of “students teaching students,” the last few years we worked to change the discourse of STEAM, education, and adversity in underserved communities.

Outreach in the School and Local Community

Mentors, Students, Counselors come together for our Girls In STEAM Conference

One of our big projects has been our annual Girls in STEAM Conference. To inspire our middle school girls at Preuss to pursue FIRST and careers in STEAM, we refined and expanded our Girls in STEAM Conference over the course of the past three years. Our three workshops consist of: speed mentoring, where female professionals meet with girls in rotating 10 minute sessions, an engineering workshop, and lastly, mentorship from Preuss peer counselors to invigorate empowerment through critical dialogue pivotal to a girl’s growth. In an effort to better share our conference for other teams to replicate, and Girls in STEAM efforts in San Diego, we have launched a new website, .

FIRST Lego League (FLL) is also a cornerstone of the middle school experience at Preuss. Every year, Team 812 invites students to join the FLL program in sixth grade. Team members take on the responsibility of coaching 6 teams of 10 students to work through the annual challenge. FLL students entering 8th grade become mini-Midnight Mechanics as part of our sustainability plan. Upon entering high school they join Team 812 and become FLL coaches. We were especially proud when last year, Preuss’ all-girls FLL team, The Robotic Pandacorns, won the Regional Rising Star Award at the Southern California Regional Competition!

Every year, Team 812 hosts a FLL Qualifying Regional Tournament. Here, our high school coaches are seen with their middle school FLL teams.

This past year, Team 812 also worked with the local Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) network to present a workshop at their annual girls’ conference. At the workshop, girls built Lego cars, used simple circuits to power their cars, and raced their prototypes. The team introduced a new wave of girls to FIRST programs and connected with educators interested in bringing FIRST into their schools future seasons. The female Mechanics also represented FIRST and the robotics world at the Fleet Science Center last May! YouTube’s Physics Girl and UC San Diego’s Undergraduate Women in Physics worked together to create a special Science and Engineering Night for girls and Team 812 was happy to join the festivities and spread the mission of FIRST.

We look forward to advocating for underrepresented population in STEAM for years to come!


Jack In the Bot with our drive team and outreach officer

Last year, our robot–Jack in the Bot– led us to being the 3rd seeded team in the San Francisco Regional! This year, we are hoping for success with Pixel, as well. Over the course of the 6 “build weeks,” our programming and tech team strategized and built a robot to deliver crates and climb for this year’s FIRST Power Up game. This year, the tech team experimented with new mecanim wheels and the programming team is using different controllers to allow for more precise control when driving the robot. While our robot is now “bagged and tagged” for competition, please check out our newly redesigned website at to follow our robot and team progress through our newsletters!

Thank you for all of your support! And just remember, Don’t You Panic, I’m a Midnight Mechanic!

Check out Team 812’s website:


Sponsored by:
BP – My Achievements
Brown – Executive Master
SWE – Diverse Podcast