. About - L&N STEMpunks

About Us




The Mechanical Team is responsible for designing the functional elements of our team's robots. Mechanical ideates and prototypes before coming to a final design for each robot. The Mechanical leader is also our safety captain.

Lead by Chloe Taylor


The Electrical Team creates the systems that power and move the robot. Electrical rigorously ensures that every aspect of the robot works to it's full potential using FRC's control systems as well as developing their own innovative systems.

Lead by Ella Marston


The Programming Team uses the Java programming language to develop innovative programs for our robots. Programming tirelessly bugfixes and optimizes code up until the day of competition.

Lead by Cade Brown

Game Strategy

The Game Strategy team analyzes each year's FRC game and develops game plans, strategies, and alliances with other teams. Game Strategy consists of members across all of the engineering teams.

Lead by Ethan Duckworth



The Products Team ideates, designs, and creates our team's physical branding standards. They're ultimately responsible for our team's public image. This includes our team's shirts, costumes, competition pit, and parade floats.

Lead by Nina Klein


The Communications Team builds our team's online image through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and this website. They pride themselves on their 2016 win of the Media and Technology Award from Comcast NBCUniversal at FIRST Championships.

Lead by Julia Pavón



Our Finance Team is responsible for reaching out to local businesses to seek their support, either financially or otherwise. The Finance team helps enable the rest of the team to build robots or design new products.

Lead by Kishan Tailor

Human Resources

Our Human Resources team is responsible for reaching out and getting the team involved in the community. HR trains and supports new members of the team and introduces them to the FIRST program, and also submits our team's award entries.

Lead by Emmanuel Sosa-Cruz


Daniel Bueckman

Daniel Bueckman is a senior at the L&N STEM Academy. Having been active with the team since he was in 7th grade and understanding every aspect of the team, nobody is better qualified to lead team 3966 for our 2016-17' school year. Daniel brings incredibly positive energy that helps inspire and energize, and he works to mentor and enable younger members of the team. Daniel's leadership helps keep the L&N STEMpunks on track and engaged in the community.



Nick Sirek

Mr. Sirek is a second-career high school science teacher at the L&N STEM Academy. He teaches multiple subjects such as Geology, Astronomy, Biology, and AP Environmental Science. This is his first year as mentor with the STEMpunks. His work in the environmental field exposed him to a variety of engineering fields including civil, chemical, industrial, mechanical, and geological engineering.

Teacher Sponsor since 2016


Eric O'Reilley

Eric is an alumni of the team, previously having led the Game Strategy team. He helps our students on the Mechanical team work on construction and planning of our robot, as well as serving as the drive team mentor at competition. He currently attends Pellissippi State Community College.

Mechanical Mentor since 2015

Jonathan Bueckman

Jonathan has been with the STEMpunks since our inception in 2011. He returns to mentor the team he previously led as a student, the Electrical team. He mentors alongside his father, who also has been with the STEMpunks since day one. He currently attends the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Electronics Mentor since 2015

Josh Witt

Josh is an alumni of the team, having graduated from the L&N STEM Academy in 2015. He was previously the team's communications lead, creating our team's videos, capturing photos, and managing our social media outlets (like this website!). He helps pass these skills onto our students and makes sure the team is on track to success. He's currently a sophomore at Pellissippi State Community College, studying communications.

Communications Mentor since 2015

Mark Best

Mark Best is from Seattle, where he worked for Boeing developing test hardware for aircraft. He is currently retired. His specialty is Computer Aided Design. This is the second FIRST robotics team he has helped, having previously worked with team 4469. Volunteering is his way of giving back what he learned over his career and keeping his mind in motion.

CAD Mentor since 2015

Randy Brown

Randy is a software developer working in the air quality monitoring industry. He has 15+ years of experience building enterprise, engineering, web, and mobile applications and related software systems. Randy holds a degree in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee. He joined the team as an opportunity to help students get started programming and to promote effective software design practices.

Programming Mentor since 2015

Randy Bueckman

In his 36+ years of working in Biomedical Engineering, Randy Bueckman has transitioned from vacuum tubes through transistors and integrated circuits to surface mount technology. He has always had great interest in automation. His sons have been interested in robots for years. Through FIRST® Robotics and the L&N STEMpunks team they can work on them together!

Electrical Mentor since 2011

Robert Duckworth

Robert is from the frozen North, but we won't hold that against him. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 and has been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in areas such as nuclear and superconducting materials, cryogenics, and vacuums.

Mechanical Mentor since 2014

Tim Klein

Tim Klein graduated from The University of Tennessee with a B.A. in Anthropology in 1993 and has worked in the Information Technology and Business Intelligence field since 1996. He has been building his own hobby robots since 2001 and enjoys sharing the challenge with kids of all ages.

Programming Mentor since 2011



Donnie Carter - Mechanical - Pellissippi State Community College

Michael Glass - Mechanical - Kettering University

Preston Gull - Programming

Davidson Kennedy - Mechanical/CAD - Pellissippi State Community College

Kobe Kinney - Programming

Ben Klein - Programming Lead - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Yves Paultre - Programming - Tennessee Technological University

Brenden Ragsdale - Electrical

Elijah Romig - Mechanical

Taylor Sloan - Communications

Ali Wilson - Mechanical

Alex Walker - Mechanical Lead - Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Thomas-Allan Tison - Team Captain - University of Tennessee Knoxville


Jonathan Bueckman - Electrical Lead - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Alyssa Cox-Lewis - Products Lead - Middle Tennessee State University

Will Dyer - Engineering - Pellissippi State Community College

Henry Gertsen - Team Captain - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Jack Gragg - Engineering - Pellissippi State Community College

Nathaniel Heinrich - Engineering Lead - Pellissippi State Community College

Jentry Jones - Business Mentor - University of Tennessee Knoxville

Joseph McRee - Engineering - University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Eric O'Reilley - Game Strategy Lead - Pellissippi State Community College

Gregory Poveda - Engineering - University of Alabama Huntsville

Samuel Stair - Communications - Pellissippi State Community College

Joshua Witt - Communications Lead - Pellissippi State Community College


Benjamin Croisdale - Programmer - University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Charles 'CJ' Johnson - Engineering - Florida Institute of Technology

Robbie Long - Electrical

Jonathan Redington - Programming Lead - University of Tennessee Knoxville


Duke of Defenses

Duke of Defenses was built for the 2016 FRC game, FIRST Stronghold. Its drivetrain utilizes four 10" wheels driven by independent CIM motors and Toughbox Mini gearboxes. Duke's wedge is designed to clear defenses and shoot boulders into the tower's high goal. The versatile drivetrain clears all terrain defenses with ease and speed.


Created for FIRST Stronghold


Calypstote was created for the 2015 FRC game, Recycle Rush. Calypstote stacks totes and recycling containers on top of elevated platforms to score points. Calypstote's arms rise up and down on linear actuators, while her elevator raises and lowers via pneumatic cylinders. Calypstote operates on a omni-wheel drive system, allowing her to strafe and move nimbly. Calypstote was dismantled in late 2015.


Created for Recycle Rush

Baron von Shrimp

Baron von Shrimp participated in Aerial Assist, the 2014 FRC game. Baron used the chassis included of the kit of parts and utilized a tank drive system. The robot's arm utilized a vacuum motor to suction the ball and a winch to pull the arm back. When the arm was pulled all the way back, a lock engaged using a pneumatics system. After releasing the winch a little, we would then disengage the vacuum motor and then the pneumatic lock to send the ball flying. Baron von Shrimp continues to be used for outreach in our community.


Created for Aerial Assist


Chair-Bot was created to show at events; it has a chair on the top for small children to ride around on. It is a retrofit of the chassis from the 2013 bot. Chair Bot is still actively used.

Created for Outreach


Our 2013 robot competed in Ultimate Ascent, the 2013 game of the FIRST Robotics Competition. The robot shot frisbees into goals placed high above the field, and had the ability to climb pyramids. Frisbees were shot by running them through a channel with spinning inflatable wheels, and the robot climbed using a measuring tape system we developed. The 2013 bot was modified into Chair-Bot.

Created for Ultimate Ascent

Da Wood

Our 2012 robot competed in Rebound Rumble, the 2012 game of the FIRST Robotics Competition. The robot shot basketball into hoops placed high above the field. It shot the basketballs using spinning wheels, and balls were picked up off the ground using the pointy side of a carpet chair mat. Da Wood was dismantled in 2013.

Created for Rebound Rumble


Our Vet-Bot was the team's first creation, taken to and shown at the Veteran's Day Parade. It blinked, saluted, and turned it's head. It was built from an RC car. Vet Bot was dismantled in 2013.

Created for the Veterans Day Parade



Media and Technology Award by Comcast NBCUniversal

FIRST Championship


Entrepreneurship Award

Rocket City Regional



Imagery Award

Smoky Mountains Regional


Safety Animation Award

Third Place