Todd Andresen started the robotics team in 2002. It was an extracurricular activity that related to physics, so he had to do it. His new team had 11 people on it and had to discover the ways of FIRST for the first time. This new team provided something that could involve kids that would otherwise not have an activity at school. He had to ease up on his involvement on the team in 2007 due to family and other commitments. The other two mentors, Kim and Ray, took over the team. He still came and helped with the team when they called and needed his help. In 2011 he became head coach again to take some pressure off Kim once her son Jason graduated. Now that Todd is again lead mentor, he really missed the enjoyment that the build process brings to both mentors and the students. When asked about what he enjoys about the team he responded, “I enjoy watching students improve their skills and attain something they didn’t think was possible.”
Ray Thwaits has been involved with FIRST for eleven years when Mr. Andresen was looking for help a few weeks before ship day in 2002. He helped the team put together a simple tank-like defensive robot. When the time came in 2007 that Mr. Andresen could no longer be lead coach, Ray and his wife Kim took over coaching the team. Ray chose to stay in the background of the team and help with technical and mechanical details, while his wife Kim lead the meetings and dealt with the financial side of the team. Ray has been very helpful and has brought a lot to the team in the eleven years he’s been involved with team 753. He plans on continuing being a mentor for team 753 and helping kids see what they can do with science and technology.
Kim Thwaits has been involved with team 753 since 2002 when her husband Ray joined the team as a mentor. She hung around in the meetings because Ray, and their son Jason, were really into the team. She became an official mentor in 2007 when her son started high school and became a leader on the team. Together, Ray and Kim became the perfect team for mentoring team 753. “The hours are crazy and stress is sometimes intense, but the number of students we have impacted over the years makes it all worthwhile.” Says Kim.
Lance got into FIRST Robotics programs through his involvement in FLL (FIRST Lego League) about 6 years ago. He was asked to volunteer at a Lego Robotics tournament because of his background in engineering. His oldest kid was 9 at the time, and Lance thought it looked like something fun to do with his son, so He formed a team with some of his friends and their kids. While at the Lego Tournament with his son the following year, he met the High School Robotics team and was interested enough to swing by a meeting to see what was going on. While he was there he began talking to the student in charge of programming the robot and found he could help him with some problems he was facing. He would help out an hour or two per week, or whenever the programmer got stuck and called him for help. The team asked him to come back more and more, and over the years he has found his involvement increasing, especially during the build season. This year he was asked to become an official coach/mentor for the team, so that he could supervise students and be a more consistent help to all the students, instead of just the programmers. So now he'll be helping the team throughout the year, rather than just during build season.
Stan got involved with team 753 in 2006 when his son Keaton was a sophomore. Keaton was getting really into robotics so Stan decided to help out the team, he soon realized that the other mentors that were helping with the team were his kind of people and became good friends with the other mentors. For a few years he worked mainly on the newsletter for the team, but now that he is retired he has more time to spend with the team, and it’s a fun activity to take up his free time. He believes that kids should get involved with FIRST because this country needs more scientists and engineers. He believes that getting creative students involved with technology will help economically. He knows that the students of today are the leaders of tomorrow and that we should help them get as much education as they can get.