Our Story


The Bay Orangutans started as the Robotics Club at Berkeley High School (BHS). In its early years, the Robotics Club only competed in the Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) Robotics Competition hosted by the University of California, Berkeley. It was known as Team 2 at the competition (teams were numbered in alphabetical order of high school).

In 2014, Team 2 was a Finalist in the PiE Robotics Competition and was awarded the Engineering Professionalism Award, PiE’s most prestigious award.


In 2015, the Team decided to make the leap from the PiE Robotics Competition to FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC). Together, Boris Fedorov, Samuel Gessow, William Hurley, Ian Kidder, Kailash Lakireddy, and Irina Lavryonova founded FRC Team 5499. While they continued to participate in PiE’s Robotics Competition, they began to focus more and more on FRC. Their hard work paid off as they were the second highest ranked rookie team at the 2015 FRC Silicon Valley Regional. That year, Team 5499 also won the Most Improved Team Award at Chezy Champs, an offseason FRC event.


In its second year, Team 5499 ranked 29th at the 2016 FRC Central Valley Regional, made it to the Quarter Finals at the 2016 FRC Idaho Regional, and ranked 27th in the Newton Division at the 2016 FRC World Championship. Later that year, the Team made it to the Semifinals at Capital City Classic, another offseason FRC event. This was also the year that the first set of alumni graduated from the Team. While some went on to pursue other passions, some returned as mentors.


In fall 2016, the Team made the decision to stop participating in PiE’s Robotics Competition and instead focus our resources entirely on FRC. In addition, the Team began to receive support from BHS; before this, Team 5499 operated largely as a community team. However, the Team found that its culture and goals did not align with those of the school and thus decided to return to its original ways as a community team.

This year, while full of change, was ultimately successful, as it led to the Team’s best season by far. At the 2017 FRC San Francisco Regional, The Bay Orangutans made it to the Semifinals and won the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors. At the 2017 FRC Idaho Regional, Team 5499 was the captain of the winning alliance and won the Quality Award sponsored by Motorola. Finally, at the 2017 FRC Houston Championship, Team 5499 won the Roebling division and ultimately overtook more than 3,500 teams to win the entire event.

What makes us different?

The Bay Orangutans are a community team that is not associated with any high schools. They are able to provide unique opportunities to students in a socioeconomically diverse community, regardless of where they live or go to school. In addition, The Bay Orangutans are uniquely student run. Unlike many FRC teams, Team 5499 was founded and continues to be driven by high school students as opposed to mentors, teachers, parents, or other adults. Every project is orchestrated and executed by students, with mentors involved only to guide us in the right direction. This culture maximizes students’ learning and embodies FIRST's values.

Our Mission:

To provide all students in our community with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and knowledge in STEM, leadership, and finance through training for and participation in competitions.

Mentors and Leadership

Lead Mentors: Connor Worley, Randy Lam

Mentors: Kailash Lakireddy, Boris Fedorov, Jose Santos, Irina Lavryonova, Mitchel Stokes, Kelly Scheurer, Devin Balcorta, Cameron Paschalydis

Student Leadership: Zoe McDonald, Andy Cate, Ely Feldsher, Thomas Laurent