The past few days have been very exciting for the 32 members of Team 1717, the Dos Pueblos High School D’Penguineers.

Two weeks ago, they were awarded the Motorola Quality Award at the San Diego Regional’s of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics. The award, which “celebrates machine robustness in concept and fabrication,” recognized PenguinBot VI (this year’s amazing robot) as what would be described in other sports as the “Best in Show.”

Additionally, at the Los Angeles regional competition this past weekend, academy Director Amir Shaeer won the coveted Woodie Flower Award, which recognizes an outstanding FIRST mentor. Team 1717’s PenguinBot6 also was awarded the Excellence in Engineering Award in recognition of its exceptional forklift and claw design.

Saturday morning included several more hours of qualifying contests with Team 1717’s PenguinBot VI winning all its matches. This moved the team up to third place and assured them a spot in the finals in the afternoon.

The top eight teams then selected their second and third alliance partners for the final elimination matches. The 3-on-3 final matches are played just like March Madness, with a best-two-out-of-three elimination. The first-ranked team, The Beach Bots from Hermosa Beach, selected Team 1717, placing the PenguinBot VI in the first-ranked alliance for the finals — a very good spot to be in. They then selected Team 1515 from Beverly Hills High School (sponsored by Disney/Dreamworks).

In the first quarterfinals, DP’s Alliance soundly dominated the first match, placing three complete logos. DP scored the max points with the first minibot deployment, winning with a score of 113-10.

Their second match was nearly the same. All of DP’s Alliance bots placed a tube during the autonomous period for max bonus, then completed several logos, and were first (DP) and second (Beach Bots) to deploy their minbots, winning 130-22 This was a record high score for this tournament.

In the first semifinal match, it was the closest match yet — even scoring of game pieces. It came down to the PenguinBot’s minibot getting up first for the biggest bonus. DP won 121-80.

The second semifinal match was full of surprises. The opposing alliance ran nothing but defense on the PenguinBot, but they still scored and scored, and they deployed their mini-bot first. But a rare and obscure penalty was called on DP’s alliance, resulting in a red card. This disqualified them, and they lost the match.

Tied up, they then played a third match, and it was wild. Fast scoring and four mini-bots up, and DP’s was first up again. It was decisive win: 124-87. They advanced to the finals.

The first final match was crazy fast with lots of defense being played on Team 1717. But DP scored and scored, even after deploying the mini-bot. They earned a decisive win again, 104-78. The Blue Alliance put a target on Team 1717 and played three-on-one defense in the second final match. DP lost 81-46. A tie-breaker was played, and in the end, DP’s alliance lost by 11 points.

— Megha Manjunath, Patrick Holmes, Aislinn Dunne, Connie Phung and Noah Connally are seniors in the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.