How I Work

How I Work Trading Cards


Scott Rippetoe – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

We’re kicking off our new blog series “How I work” with the head mentor for the 2013 FRC Champions, FRC#1477 Texas Torque. Scott Rippetoe has been involved in FRC for a long time and has been working to build a strong FRC program in Conroe ISD since 2004. He will be celebrating his thirtieth wedding anniversary with his wife, Suzanne, in December. His son, Michael, and daughter Marta, are both currently in college and both alumni of FRC#1477. He is retiring from Conroe ISD, but will continue working with Texas Torque and in the school district coordinating robotics education at all grade levels.


Adam Freeman – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

For our first mentor outside of our home state of Texas, we bring you the coach of one of the most successful FRC teams of all time. Adam Freeman joined the HOT Team (FRC#67) during their Hall of Fame 2005 season. He has been a crucial mentor of the team that has won three World Championships and three Michigan State Championships. Let’s hear from him on some of his favorite designs, what he works on at GM, and how HOT has been so successful for so long.


Mason Markee – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

In this installment of “How I Work”, we’re featuring a mentor that has been on competitive robotics teams since he was in middle school. Mason Markee of FRC#118, The Robonauts, was a student leader on the team when he was in High School and came back after college to work at NASA, and became one of the adult leaders of this powerhouse FRC team. This past season he was best known for his iconic mustache that led to a few epic pranks at the FRC World Championship. Now let’s hear from him on his job at NASA and his dedicated involvement with educational robotics.


Andrew Lynch – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Andrew Lynch is the lead mentor of team 2587 the Discobots and a close friend of Spectrum. Andrew is a true journeyman of Texas robotics teams. He has been on four different teams in his time in FRC, helping to start two of them. He also is one of the key players in the Texas VEX Robotics community from it’s inception in 2008. Just this past weekend he was the MC at Texas Robot Roundup. We asked him about his favorite team memory, his robotics experience, his education, and much more.


Danny Diaz – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Danny Diaz is in an engineer for National Instruments and a long time mentor for team #418 LASA Robotics. The 2010 Lone Star Regional Woodie Flowers Finalist Award recipient can often be found behind the scoring table at Texas FRC regionals and FTC events. Keep reading to learn about how he joined LASA, why he ties his shoes, his favorite music, and a whole lot more.


Jess Jankowitsch – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Jess Jankowitsch has been around the FIRST program since her early days as an FLL student. She has performed nearly every job you can think of in FRC. She has been an FRC team president, mentor, emcee, judge, senior mentor, championship volunteer coordinator, assistant regional director, and she even finds time to run one of the best off-season events in FIRST,Texas Robot Roundup. Jess’s contributions to FIRST are substantial and Texas FRC teams are lucky that she moved down here from Pennsylvania for graduate school. Jess is one of our 1st non-engineering mentors that we have featured on this blog. The FIRST program wouldn’t be the same without the hard work of dedicated volunteers like Jess. Continue reading to hear from Jess about why she is studying psychology, her favorite music, some great advice, and even a recipe.


Kiet Chau – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

The Holy Cows get the honor of being of our first team with two mentors featured on our blog. We have already highlighted their lead mentor Jon Jack and this week we’re are featuring another of their mentors Kiet Chau. Kiet has been around FRC since 2004 and has grown up in the program. He’s now an engineer with Qualcomm. Read further for the story of how FRC got him his current job, some great stories including some really quick robot rebuilding, and a lot more.


David Bodmer – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

This week we have our first mentor from the Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR) District. David Bodmer is the lead mentor for FRC#11 MORT and their Beta team FRC#193.  David shares with us a great story about arranging transportation to a regional the day of the event, his reason for why he loves what he does, and several great quotes.


Norman Morgan – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Norman Morgan, or Coach Norm as he is known to most, has been coaching FRC#2468 since their inception six years ago. 2013 was a breakout year for team 2468, winning the Hub City Regional Chairman’s Award, finally taking home their first regional banner at the Alamo Regional, and putting on a great performance on the Archimedes field at the Championship event. Coach Norm has been a huge part of that success and was honored by being presented the 2013 Hub City Woodie Flowers Finalist award. Coach Norm is truly dedicated to his students and spreading STEM in the community. Coach Norm expands on why he got into education, how he got the opportunity to coach Team Appreciate, and much more.


Jon Jack – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

The Chairman’s Award is FIRST’s highest honor. It’s given to a single team each year at Championship and that team is inducted into the FIRST Hall of Fame. The award celebrates a team that exemplifies FIRST’s ideals and is a role model for other teams. This year FRC#1538, The Holy Cows, was the 21st team to receive this honor. Over the years, The Holy Cows have had a huge impact in southern California and beyond. You can read their Chairman’s Award entry here. In our latest edition of “How I Work” we bring you the lead mentor of this Hall of Fame team, Jon Jack. Jon has been one of the key people in building The Holy Cows into the world class team they are today. In this interview he talks about the middle school teachers that ignited his passion in technology, The Holy Cows’ facilities, and his favorite FRC robots of all time.


Justin Montois – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

This week we are featuring one of the creators of Mike and Justin in the Morning and FRC Top 25, Justin Montois. Justin has helped develop one of the most popular webcast shows in the FRC community. Each week during the competition season they compile votes and do a Top 25 show. These shows also recap many of the hot topics of the week in FRC. If you’re not tuning in, you should be. The viewer chats during the webcasts are entertaining and sometimes even informative. This year they also started FRC Premier Night where they unveiled many of this seasons release videos. We interviewed Justin about his time in FRC, his role on GRR, and much more.


Karthik Kanagasabapathy – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Today we have one of the most well known mentors/MCs/VEX Game Designers/Simbots in the robotics community, Karthik Kanagasabapathy. He was a founding member of FRC#188 – Woburn Robotics, the 1st Canadian FRC team, and from there his passion for robotics competition grew. Karthik’s accomplishments need little introduction. He has been essential in developing FRC #1114 into a World Champion and Championship Chairman’s Award winning team. He is the Chairman of the VRC Game Design Committee and helps spread competitive robotics to thousands of teams around the world each year. He’s extremely active in the community, answering all of the VEX Q&A each year and having a consistent presence on Chiefdelphi. Hisstrategy presentations the past few years have been standing room only events at FRC Championship. In this interview he tells you how he was brought into 1114, shares the best advice he’s ever received, and offers loads of advice for students and mentors alike.


Justin Ridley – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Justin Ridley is our second mentor from FRC#118 The Robonauts. He is another FIRST success story, having started on a FIRST team in high school, mentored a team in college, started his career as an engineer, and continues to mentor a team now. Justin is the key man behind 118’s recent run of exceptional reveal videos. You can hear about his job at NASA, how a skiing accident brought him into robotics, and more.


Jenny Beatty – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Jenny Beatty has been working in public service for a very long time. She started directing her efforts to FIRST over 14 years ago. She is the co-founder of NEMO (Non-Engineering Mentor Organization) and a critical volunteer in the Baltimore area. Let’s hear more about how she works and how she got involved in FIRST.


Paul Johnson – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Paul has been a mentor on team 1429 since its inception. He teaches engineering and is one of the go-to mentors in Texas for help with building strong Chairman’s Award presentations and teams. Paul has been working on inspiring students and improving their lives for many years. He talks below about his career teaching engineering and photography.


P.J. Lewalski – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

P.J. has been on team 910 since 2007, a teacher in training at Oakland University, a trained referee and a dedicated member of The Foley Freeze. He was inspired by FRC to pursue a career in teaching and he talks about his life changing experiences he has had with his team.


Alex Cormier – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Alex Cormier was one of the founding members of team 1126 and since then, he has been on several other FIRST teams. He designs and makes items such as trophies, custom graphics, etched glass, and other creative custom projects on his website: www.TwoPencilDesigns.com.
In this edition he tells us the story of how he got interested in FIRST and why he chose to stick with it.


Wendy Holladay – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

This week we are looking into the life of Wendy Holladay, a very supportive member of her team, always helping and encouraging her students to get the energy to move forward. She is a dedicated founder to her team and doesn’t let anything get in her way.


Libby Kamen – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

In this edition of “This Is How I Work” we have one of the most prominent figures in the FIRST community, Libby Kamen. Many of you know Libby for being a member of FIRST’s founding family and a regular award presenter at the FIRST Championship. However Libby is far more than just a figurehead within FIRST. She’s the founder and an active mentor of FRC 1923, The MidKnight Inventors, as well having been an active college mentor on both Teams 229 and 4124. Within MAR she’s known for her commanding presence as a strategist and drive coach. Today Libby shares her experiences with us of growing up in FIRST, founding a rookie team, staying involved while in college, and how to best handle long distance mentoring. Unfortunately she didn’t reveal any of her secrets when it comes ruining my Jordans. 🙂
– Karthik Kanagasabapathy


Ty Tremblay – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

With Chezy Champs just around the corner we thought it fitting to introduce one of the members of the GameSense crew that will be doing commentary at the event. Ty Tremblay has a long history in FRC. Ty’s story reads like a promotion for FIRST and introducing students to STEM. Like many people he was introduced to FRC in a “unique” way and was hooked throughout high school. He attended a university that is heavily involved with FRC and mentored team 190 while getting his degrees in Robotics Engineering. He’s now an engineer for a robotics company and he returned to mentor his high school team. You can’t write an FRC success story better than this. Be sure to read the rest of his article and listen to him and the rest of the GameSense crew this weekend on the Chezy Champs webstream.


Jason Ball – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Mr. Ball graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in physics, and he later graduated from Rice University with an M.S. in physics. Mr. Ball is currently in his second year of teaching at the Academy of Science and Technology, where he teaches  Pre-AP Physics, AP Physics, Electronics and Robotics. Mr. Ball has been with Texas Torque from the day he taught at the Academy of Science and Technology, he and has tirelessly worked to contribute to the team ever since.  Mr. Ball is passionate and inspires youth to explore STEM fields and become positive members of their communities. Through his involvement with FIRST Robotics he has had the amazing opportunity to influence fellow students in positive ways.
– Reagan Spexarth from Texas Torque 1477


Glenn Lee – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

This week we are featuring a revered mentor who’s been with his team since their inception, Glenn Lee. He’s led his team to become a Hall of Fame team, IRI champions, and winners of many regional competitions. There isn’t an FRC team out there who doesn’t recognize the Hawaiian Kids in their signature flower patterned shirts. He helps the robotics community, by holding grant writing workshops to help teams fund their programs. He also raises thousands of dollars for his team every year, so that his team can travel to regionals. Recently, he had an appearance on Behind the Lines, which is a new show from the makers of GameSense and FIRST.


Shelly Gaydos – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

Shelly Gaydos is a mentor who is very dedicated to her team and spreading the word of FIRST. Gaydos is geared towards bringing new ideas and projects to get kids more interested about engineering. She began an FRC team at the high school where she teaches and has been involved with FIRST ever since. She has even started robotics classes at her high school to get kids more interested in robotics and prepare them for the FIRST season. She’s also lead her team to win the Chairman’s Award during the 2013 and 2014 season.


Tyler Holtzman – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

This week we are getting to know more about Tyler Holtzman, the highly revered mentor from 2056 OP Robotics. He’s been involved with FRC for more than 10 years and previously mentored 1114 Simbotics before joining 2056 OP Robotics as one of their founding mentors. He has numerous years of FRC experience that helped him build up 2056 to the powerhouse team that they are today. With his help, OP Robotics have won every regional they have competed in since he has joined the team. FIRST has had a large impact on Tyler Holtzman’s life by giving him his first full-time job that he continues to do today. Even as he is heavily involved in the FRC community, he lives a balanced life that allowed him to train and participate in the Ironman Mont Tremblant in August of 2014. Be sure to read to more about his story and advice in the rest of the article and learn how a great mentor works.


Ryan Dognaux – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

This month we’re featuring the life of Ryan Dognaux, a mentor from FRC team 4329 who was previously on FRC teams 234 and 1646. Ryan Dognaux joined an FLL team when he was in middle school and went on to FRC from there. He then set off to improve his team’s scouting system. He is also an amazing MC and MC’s at many events including VEX worlds. Ryan Dognaux is a hard working mentor who strives to do the best for his team and spends most of his time helping his students to CAD and fabricate parts for the robot. If you want a more in depth look at his stories and advice, keep reading to see how amazing our FRC mentors are!


Jim Zondag – This Is How I Work (dowload pdf)

It has been a long time since the last How I Work article has come out, so we’re coming back with with Jim Zondag from FRC team 33, a veteran mentor who has been in FRC since 1998. In thisinterview, he talks about how his interest in STEM at a young age inspired him to pursue a career in engineering, which led him to join FRC. He joined the Killer Bees in their early years and has become an integral part of the team since. Read more about his amazing stories and advice from his many years in FRC, and learn how a veteran mentor works!


Jonathan Bryant – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

In this week’s How I Work, we are going to look a little bit into the life of a familiar face from FIRST HQ. You might remember him as the guy who says “Bring out the dead!” in the FRC Stronghold Game reveal: Jonathan Bryant. When Jonathan joined FRC, he instantly became mesmerized by the regional atmosphere and years later became a FRC Kit of Parts Engineer. In this article, you can find out more about the amazing stories and advice Jonathan has to offer!


Katie Widen – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

In this week’s How I Work, we’re delving into the life of a Katie Widen a former student of 1675 who is also the Co-founder and former mentor of 3928. Katie is currently working as a Software Engineer at VEX Robotics while mentoring 1296 and training to be an FTA. Katie tells interesting stories about her time on her team and the different things she has learned through her many years in robotics. Read more to know more about Katie and her experiences to become the amazing mentor she is now!


Kristine Atiyeh – This Is How I Work- (download pdf)

This month we are looking at Kristine Atiyeh, an inspiring mentor who helps kids learn in all sorts of ways. She is a teacher and mentor to many young kids, from her art classes to her work with Lego Robotics for the Latino STEM Alliance. She shares her knowledge of robotics gained from years of experience of being on FRC team 175 Buzz Robotics. She is now a mentor on 125 NUTRONS and was recently on GameSense to present the 2016 game hint! If you want to know more about this incredible mentor and her experiences, read the article and see how our amazing FRC mentors work!


Greg McKaskle – This Is How I Work(download pdf)

This week’s How I Work focuses on Greg McKaskle, a FIRST mentor of not only 2468 Team Appreciate, but also a FLL and a FLL Jr team. Greg began his involvement in FIRST through his work with LEGO which eventually led him into FRC where he has gained many years of experience mentoring 2468. Greg tells many interesting stories and advice about robotics in his article so be sure to read more to get some more insight on how he does what he does!