Spare Parts


Joshua Davis

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Oscar Vazquez

One of the four students who compete in the MATE competition as a part of the Carl Hayden robotics club, along with Cristian, Lorenzo, and Luis. Oscar and his mother, Manuelaread analysis of Oscar Vazquez

Cristian Arcega

One of the four students who compete in the MATE competition as a part of the Carl Hayden robotics club, along with Oscar, Lorenzo, and Luis. Cristian is the brains of the… read analysis of Cristian Arcega

Lorenzo Santillan

One of the four students who compete in the MATE competition as a part of the Carl Hayden robotics club, along with Cristian, Oscar, and Luis. Lorenzo was brought to the United… read analysis of Lorenzo Santillan

Luis Aranda

One of the four students who compete in the MATE competition as a part of the Carl Hayden robotics club, along with Oscar, Lorenzo, and Cristian. Luis was brought by his mother… read analysis of Luis Aranda

Fredi Lajvardi

The teacher and advisor for the robotics club at Carl Hayden. Fredi grew up as an Iranian immigrant and was often made fun of and even beaten up in high school, particularly during the Iranian… read analysis of Fredi Lajvardi
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Allan Cameron

Another teacher at Carl Hayden who helps Fredi with the robotics club. Allan grew up in the 50s as a mischievous kid before serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War. After he returns, he… read analysis of Allan Cameron

Joshua Davis

The author of the book. Davis largely absents himself from the narrative, with one exception. Davis breaks the story about Oscar, Cristian, Lorenzo, and Luis for Wired for the first time in… read analysis of Joshua Davis

Michael Hanck

Another student who is a part of the larger robotics team at Carl Hayden. He is Cristian’s age and invites Cristian onto the team. Michael helps build the pumpkin-throwing trebuchet, but when the robotics… read analysis of Michael Hanck

Joe Arpaio

The sheriff of Maricopa County (the county that includes Phoenix). Arpaio holds deep-seated prejudices about Mexican immigrants and inspires citizens to form vigilante posses, many of which use violence or intimidation tactics in order to… read analysis of Joe Arpaio

Major Glenn Goins

The instructor of Oscar’s high school ROTC group. Goins teaches Oscar leadership, dedication, and also that the Declaration of Independence gives rights to all people, not just American citizens. Goins is impressed with Oscar… read analysis of Major Glenn Goins

Ann Justus

Fredi’s high school science teacher. Justus not only inspires Fredi’s philosophy of emphasizing hands-on work and making classwork exciting, but she also inspires Fredi to be a teacher. Even though he goes to college… read analysis of Ann Justus

Russell Pearce

An Arizona State representative who in 2004 gives a speech saying that he views the immigration policies in America as being too lenient on immigrants and not good for the country. When the Carl Hayden… read analysis of Russell Pearce

Dick Durbin

An Illinois Senator who introduces the DREAM Act in 2001. It fails to make it to a vote. In 2010, he reintroduces the bill and talks about Oscar as a prime example of a person… read analysis of Dick Durbin

Laura Alicia Santillan

Lorenzo’s mother and Pablo’s wife. After accidentally dropping Lorenzo on his head as a child, she takes him to the United States to get better medical attention. She and Pablo then decide to… read analysis of Laura Alicia Santillan

Pablo Santillan

Lorenzo’s father and Laura’s husband. He moves to the United States with Laura, Lorenzo, and José when Lorenzo is an infant and gets work as a landscaper. He has a hard time adjusting… read analysis of Pablo Santillan


Lorenzo’s godfather. Hugo has set up a makeshift auto repair shop in his driveway, and Lorenzo cleans the tools for him. Hugo doesn’t have a lot of money or equipment, and so he must… read analysis of Hugo

Dean Kamen

A young inventor who starts the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competitions in order to get kids more interested in science and technology. Cristian, Oscar, Lorenzoread analysis of Dean Kamen

Donald Rodocker

The president of SeaBotix, an ROV manufacturing company. Rodocker takes Oscar and Luis on a tour of his facility during a class field trip. He also allows Oscar to borrow a pincer prototype, which he… read analysis of Donald Rodocker
Minor Characters
Frank Swankoski
A temperature engineer at a thermometer supplier in Connecticut. Oscar calls him to get advice on a temperature-reading task in the competition. Swankoski is impressed with the boys’ initiative and donates a thermocouple to the team.
Greg De Trey
The owner of Distagage, a company that sells laser tape measures. De Trey gives Oscar and the team advice, testing his laser for them to see if it would work underwater. He also offers to let them borrow one of his devices.
Ms. Hildebrandt
Cristian’s eighth grade chemistry teacher. Ms. Hildebrandt encourages him to work on independent projects, which inspires him to conduct his first experiment: exploring the effect of different fin designs on a rocket.
Leticia Arcega
Cristian’s mother and Juan’s wife. Leticia crosses the border with Cristian in order to join Juan, who goes ahead of them to send money back to the family. Leticia encourages Cristian’s experiments by giving him toys that he can take apart and put back together.
Juan Arcega
Cristian’s father and Leticia’s husband. Juan travels to the United States looking for better work opportunities. He goes ahead of Cristian and Cristian’s mother, and later the family rejoins him in the U.S.
Ramiro Vazquez
Oscar’s father and Manuela’s husband. He sells a pig in order to travel to the United States so that he can make more money working in a factory. Ramiro is deported, but works to return to the United States with his family.
Manuela Vazquez
Oscar’s mother and Ramiro’s wife. When Oscar’s father Ramiro leaves for the United States, Oscar and Manuela join him, but Manuela is heartbroken, having left her daughter Luz behind. Only after Luz marries does she see the benefit of the United States for Oscar.
Pedro Aranda
Luis’s father and Maria Garcia’s husband, who travels ahead of Maria Garcia and Luis to the United States to find work. Eventually, he obtains permanent residency and is able to get green cards for Maria Garcia and Luis.
Maria Garcia Aranda
Luis’s mother, and Pedro’s wife, who brings him to America so that he might have a better life than she and her husband do.
Tom Swean
One of the judges in the technical presentation portion of the MATE ROV competition, along with Lisa Spence. Swean runs the Navy’s Ocean Engineering and Marine Systems program.
Lisa Spence
One of the judges in the technical presentation portion of the MATE ROV competition, along with Tom Swean. Spence is the flight lead at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory.
Bryce Merrill
The host of the awards ceremony at the MATE ROV competition, who is also a recruiting manager for an industrial ROV firm.
Tina Lowe
The woman who runs the Scuba Sciences facility, where the Carl Hayden students use the pool to test drive their robot.
Luis’s boss at the restaurant. Hearing about Luis’s participation in the underwater-robotics competition, he is so impressed that he writes a check for $100 for the team.
Pam Nuñez
Fredi’s wife. Pam is the school psychologist, but she takes time off of work after having their two kids, Alex and Bijan.
Karla Perez
Oscar’s girlfriend, whom he meets while he is in college. They eventually marry and have a daughter.
Fredi and Pam’s older son, who has Asperger’s syndrome.
Fredi and Pam’s younger son, who is diagnosed with pronounced autism at two years old.
Reza Lajvardi
Fredi’s father.
Tooran Lajvardi
Fredi’s mother.
Alladin (Ali) Lajvardi
Fredi’s younger brother.
José Santillan
Lorenzo’s older brother.
Pedro Vazquez
Oscar’s older brother.
Luz Vazquez
Oscar’s older sister.