Drive Team/Match Strategist
Years on FIRST: 9 (5 as Mentor, 1 with 2168)
What are your goals with 2168 and FIRST?
To support the strategic choices and goals in the build season and at competitions.
What do you like most about the program?
I appreciate the effects it has on students to give them the opportunity to explore STEM fields and be competitive mentally.
What impact has the FIRST experience had on you?
- Helped pick my college
- Helped decide my degree
- Got me a job with nuclear submarines
- Gave me better skills with people and critical thinking
I became involved with FIRST Robotics during my first semester at Clarkson University as a mentor on Team 229 Division By Zero. The robotics program at Clarkson was treated as an outreach effort that gave two area high schools a chance to work with college students. Picking up robotics mentoring as an extracurricular activity, I quickly became immersed in the culture as I saw how greatly it impacted the students I worked with how it made me strive to learn and pass on even more knowledge. At Clarkson I took every opportunity I could to work with robotics throughout the year, and made some lasting friendships as a result. After graduating from Clarkson with B.S. in mechanical engineering, I took a job at General Dynamics Electric Boat where I was eager to work with team 2168 as well as some friends from 229. My role now is a mechanical mentor and I strive to pass on the knowledge In my years of robotics and of engineering, I have learned design practices I have used at college and in my career.
Coach and Faculty Advisor
Fitch High School
It’s Mr. Chidley to the students here at Fitch where I teach Physics. I got my bachelor’s from UVA in 1988 and immediately took a 10-year “pre-tirement,” mostly running, cycling, mountaineering, and back-country skiing. I worked as a baker in Charlottesville, VA; as a carpenter in Manassas, VA; a bike & Ski tech in Portland, OR; plus other odd jobs that also put my Physics and English degrees to good use. I began teaching in 1998 and I joined the team in December 2008 when the student captain at the time quite actually begged me to “help out a little bit.” I had no idea what to expect, and had no clue how to build a robot. This is my fifth year of FIRST Robotics, and the fourth year of the Aluminum Falcons. Along with Josh, I get to do a lot of talking; to students, to parents, to other teachers and administrators. During the build season, I get to do my favorite job of leading the construction of the practice field elements, plus whatever other rough carpentry jobs pop up. I'm looking forward to this new season. Our 2014 team has more than 35 solid, dedicated members. Compare that to 5 in 2009.
Lead Programming Mentor
I joined the team right before the 2009 season began. Before joining Team 2168 I had never heard of FIRST. I was immediately hooked, like many others have been before me. I had a strong hardware and software background, but nothing can quite prepare you for the time crunch of a 6 week design/test/build season. My goal is to push each student which is on my crew to be a team within a team. I expect every one of my students to look back on each season and be astounded with how much they have grown technically and personally.
When I joined Team 2168, there were no more than 10 mentors and students at any time. From this modest beginning we've built a monster team that's thriving. It didn't come without failures, but together we're doing it and I hope everyone takes pride in that.
(James is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering.)
Lead Control System Mentor
My FIRST career started when I joined my high school robotics team my senior year in 2004. FRC Team 640, RoboElite was a team of only 8 students and one faculty member at the time. I had no prior knowledge of programming or robotics in general, and in 6 weeks had to learn how to program in Easy C and figure out what the word pneumatics meant. It was a refreshing challenge and sparked my interest in Engineering and Science like nothing before. My role on the team then shifted to Lead Driver and we ultimately made it to the semi-finals at the NYC regional. That single event was my inspiration to become an Engineer.
I attended Polytechnic University of NY and graduated in 2008 with dual bachelors degree in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering. During my college years I stayed a mentor of team 640 off and on, as well as some local FLL teams that the university supported. After Graduation, I moved up to Groton, CT to pursue further education and joined the Aluminum Falcons in 2008. The Falcons was a team similar to the team I started from, small, under-supported but full of talent and full of potential. Even though my role on the team is lead Controls Engineer, my goal is to inspire each one of my kids the same way I was inspired, and push them to the capabilities I know they have! The kids on this team are the most amazing kids I have ever had the privilege to work with. Its great to see the difference from where we started to where we are now.
I completed my Masters degree in Control Systems and Robotics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2011 and am currently pursing a PhD degree in Control Systems from Yale University.
U.S. Coast Guard
I am a member of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed at the International Ice Patrol. 2013 is my second year as a parent mentor. The experience has been great. The energy that these kids put forward is amazing. From the countless hours they put into the design and build of the robot, to the spirit and sportmanship during the competitions. I am very proud of all the team members, especially my sons Jacob and Brody. I feel privileged to be able to share this experience with them all.
I moved to New London from Boston after finishing 6 years at Tufts University. Due to being a city boy, I was raised in NYC. I initially found New London sort of dull, that was until I joined the robotics team at Fitch. One of my coworkers that was on the team asked me if I wanted to help out since he knew of interest in robotics and CAD. I had never really heard of FIRST before but after I went to one of the meetings I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. My first year on the team in 2009/10 was a little rough with a small budget and minimal resources but by the end I knew the team had potential. I was amazed with the improvement that the team made in the 2010/11 season, and I am confident that this season will be a great year for the FITCH High School Robotics Team.
Drive Team Coach and Lead Mentor
Hi, my name is Josh. I began my career in FIRST Robotics my junior year of high school in the 2004 game called Raising the Bar, on FRC Team 229, Division By Zero. My senior year of high school, I was accepted to a number of universities and chose Clarkson University, the home of 229. I had the privilege of serving a number of roles as a mentor on team 229, from programmer to team leader. Upon graduation from Clarkson with my B.S. in Electrical Engineering, I accepted a job with General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, CT as an automation and controls engineer, designing nuclear submarines for the US Navy. It was here in Groton where I joined FRC Team 2168, The Aluminum Falcons. My primary role on the team is the Drive Team Coach; however, like every mentor on the team, we all have a hand in every aspect of the team. My goal is to inspire the students on our team to aspire to become our country's next leaders and innovators through dedication, hard work, and the desire to always improve. I challenge everyone of my students to not be a follower but a doer.
I started as a parent volunteer. After a season watching, I thought I could help and just tried to fill in where I saw a gap. I committed this year to becomming a full time volunteer, supporting team 2168 in their mission to compete in FIRST FRC and to spread the word to 8th grade STEM and the oppurtunity FIRST has to offer. I find the 2168 experience rewarding and have created some great friendships with the students and mentors helping the Marketing Team for a majority of the season.