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Engineering | Fulton Engineering Education Outreach

FIRST LEGO League Council of Experts

The FIRST LEGO League Council of Experts is here to answer your questions! These volunteers specialize in everything from engineering your robot to preparing for competition day. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to these individuals or teams. To everyone on our panel, and all of you in the FIRST LEGO League Community – thank you a million times for all that you do to keep FIRST LEGO League thriving in Arizona. We couldn’t do it without you, and together we can change lives!

Rich Gomez

Have any questions about this year’s robot game challenge? Are you a referee needing clarification on a mission? Rich Gomez, a veteran with FIRST for over a decade and our head referee for the state, can help!

Nancy Okabe
Lead Judge Advisor

Nancy Okabe, our regional lead judge advisor, can help with any and every question you may have about the judging process in FIRST LEGO League.

Erik Von Burg
Robot Expert

Need help programming your EV3? Erik is your guy! With over 10 years of FIRST LEGO League experience, he is currently ASU’s go-to facilitator for all EV3 Coaches’ Workshops, FIRST LEGO League Summer Camps, and Kickoff programming workshops.

Russ, Evin, and Nic
Community Outreach Team

If you are seeking opportunities to bring FIRST LEGO League to your community, these gentlemen know best. With over two decades of combined FIRST LEGO League experience, community service for FIRST LEGO League is what this team of experts is all about.

Russ ( has been a FIRST LEGO League Coach and Mentor for 8 years and a FIRST Robotics Competition team Coach and Mentor for 5 years.  Besides leading a successful team, he has run regionals, scrimmages, and worked on developing outreach opportunities all over the Phoenix area including at the Phoenix Zoo, The Arizona Diamondbacks, IDEA Museum, City of Mesa, Mesa School District, and other local community events.

Evin ( has been involved with FIRST LEGO League for 8 years now.  He was on a successful FIRST LEGO League team for 4 years, has run a scrimmage and workshop for the last 3 years, and has helped organize and run a Regional FIRST LEGO League tournament for the last 5 years.  Besides participating, organizing, and refereeing, he has also mentored more than 10 FLL teams and loves to offer advice to many more.

Nic ( has been involved with FIRST LEGO League for 8 years now.  He was on a successful FIRST LEGO League team for 4 years and has helped organize and run a Regional FIRST LEGO League tournament for the last 4 years.  An expert on the table set up and rules, Nic also mentors several FIRST LEGO League teams and helps with programming troubleshooting.

Susan Garduño
Fundraising Expert

Looking to raise funds to support your FLL team? Meet Susan, a passionate FIRST Senior Mentor that has been serving the FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge communities for years. According to Susan, “Fundraising makes me happy. I specialize in In-Kind donations and sponsorship. I like to think outside of the box while fundraising.”

Fredi Lajvardi
Tournament Expert

Fredi started his journey into robotics by founding a STEM club at Carl Hayden High School in 1989. He built 13 full sized electric vehicles with students, and raced them across the country for 10 years, as a part of the Arcrunner Electric Vehicle Racing Team. He founded and currently runs FIRST Robotics Competition Team 842, and started Falcon Robotics ROV and AUV teams. Fredi helped bring FIRST LEGO League to the state of Arizona and used to host the state champions until we outgrew the space. Fredi knows the ins and outs of tournament day and is a great resource for any and all things dealing with qualifiers!

Danielle Mara
Volunteer Expert

Danielle is a former FIRST Robotics Competition participant on Team 4146 for four years, and is currently a ASU student. She was the tournament director and volunteer coordinator for the Scottsdale Qualifier in 2014 and 2015. She was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer of the year at the 2015 Arizona FIRST LEGO League State Championship.

Mark Pond
Coaching Expert

Mark began coaching FIRST LEGO League in 2012 with an all-girls team in Mesa. Over their four years, they earned trophies for Core Values, Inspiration, First Place Robot Game, Second Place State Tournament, and were invited to the Open at Legoland. In 2014, he was awarded Coach of the Year for the Red Mountain Qualifier Tournament. According to Mark, “My objective as a member of the Council is to provide any help I can with team management, strategies, and some tips for robot and attachment design. Arizona has some great FLL teams and I hope we can continue the tradition.”

Eric Scheidemandel
Scrimmage Expert

Eric has been involved in FIRST LEGO League since 2006. He coached teams that won several state tournaments and competed in two FIRST LEGO League World Festivals in Atlanta. He has mentored multiple FIRST LEGO League teams at Oakwood Elementary since 2010, where he has hosted the Oakwood Scrimmage for several years. He also helped teach a session on intermediate LEGO robotics at the ASU FIRST LEGO League Kickoff in 2011.

FRC Team 1165 Paradise Valley
Rookie Team Hotline

New to FIRST LEGO League and looking for some advice? Look no further! Paradise Valley Team 1165 is here to help. Feel free to reach out to them with all of your new-to-FIRST LEGO League questions. They have plenty of resources for new teams and would be happy to help.