Team Appreciate has developed ties with many prominent engineers and because of these relationships, our team has a well-built mentor program. Our mentors spend countless hours with our team working on both the engineering and non-engineering projects that are part of the FIRST competition. Not only are they devoted to passing on their skills to members of our team, but also to the FIRST ethos as a whole.


Eanes ISD Staff

 

 

Coach

Norman Morgan: Head Coach

During 17 years as a basketball coach, “Coach” learned how to inspire, a skill that was acknowledged when he received his Woodie Flowers Award at the 2013 Hub City Regional (view submission here). In addition to his superior teaching and inspiration skills, he’s also well known for his expertise in game strategy. Many of our alliance partners, particularly in elimination matches, quickly learn that his keen strategic ability can mean the difference between a loss and a win. Despite being a keen competitor, Coach is also known for his willingness to listen and his compassion. Coach Morgan has a BS in education from Wayland Baptist College and an MS in education from Texas State University.

Brad Smith: Assistant Coach

Mr. Smith teaches math at our high school, and is the new assistant coach for our team. His responsibilities include leading the scouting team at competitions and assisting around the shop. Outside of school, Mr. Smith enjoys watching movies, and spending time with his 3 dogs. He is also a bit of a technology nerd and enjoys learning new things. He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas.

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Bob Witowski: Assistant Coach

Bob teaches physics at our high school, but once operated his own tutoring and engineering recruiting businesses. His son, Garrett, is an alumnus of Team Appreciate and a 2012 FIRST Robotics Dean’s List Finalist Award winner. Outside of robotics, Mr. Witowski is active with Boy Scouts, where he is a rock climbing instructor. Bob has a BS and MS in chemical engineering from Clarkson University.

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Dona Jordan

Dona is one of our biggest fans. Her office door is typically covered with pictures and announcements celebrating our team’s success and promoting upcoming events. She travels with our team and is always available when we need someone to critique our practice award presentations. She is also a frequent volunteer at FRC events, often serving as pit administrator. Dona has a BS in industrial education from Texas A&M University.

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Tim Jordan

“TJ” helps us with the design and development of electronics. He is also our designated “shop csar”, handling general shop organization and ensuring we have the tools we need. He also uses his carpentry skills to help build our practice fields and crates. TJ frequently volunteers at FRC events, often serving as pit announcer. He has a BS and MS in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University.

 


Industry Mentors

 



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Scott McMahon

Scott is a SoC Design Engineer at Intel and has been a mentor for Team Appreciate since its inception in 2007. While a senior member of technical staff at Texas Instruments and Luminary Micro, he was the innovator behind the development of the Jaguar motor controller. He was also a member of the FRC control system design team from 2008-2014. In 2014, Scott received the Woodie Flowers Award at the Alamo Regional (view submission here). Scott holds a BASc in electrical engineering with minor in computer science from The University of Waterloo. He holds five US patents in circuit design and computer architecture.

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Linda McMahon

Linda is the CEO and co-owner of Pixels & Verbs, LLC and has 20+ years experience in high-tech management, including work at MessageOne, Pencom, Intrinsity, and AMD. A senior mentor for Team Appreciate since its inception, Linda also mentors other robotics teams in our district as needed. She was the founder and organizer of the Westlake & Eanes Science & Technology Association (WESTA), the nonprofit that helps fund our programs. Linda has an Associate of Applied Science degree and certificate in software project management from The University of Texas at Austin.

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Joe Hershberger

Involved in FRC since he was a high school student, Joe went on to mentor teams in Oklahoma while in graduate school. After joining National Instruments and moving to Austin, Joe joined our team as an engineering mentor in our 2008 rookie FRC season. Joe also puts in consider volunteer time developing the firmware that runs the FRC control system (both the cRIO and the RoboRIO) and is a member of the FRC control system design team. He holds a BS and MS in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University.

Joyce Witowski

Joyce is a senior procurement manager at Freescale and is founder and co-owner of Allouette Management Service. She also serves as a non-engineering mentor for Chap Robotics, which she has mentored (and fed) since 2008. Joyce’s son, Garrett, participated in Chap Robotics for four years and was named a FIRST Robotics “Dean’s List” Finalist in 2012. She has also been a two-time president of the Westlake & Eanes Science & Technology Association (WESTA), the nonprofit that helps fund our programs. Joyce holds a BS and an MS in chemical engineering from Clarkson University.

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Steve Sullivan

Steve has volunteered for the past two years with our FTC teams (6504, 5628) and has now joined FRC 2468. Currently, a hardware designer for Apple, Inc., he is a veteran of the Semiconductor Industry with a BSEE from Manhattan College, MSEE from NYU Polytechnic and holds 10 patents in circuit design. An avid supporter of STEM, Steve helps organize events for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for the Capitol Area Council.

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Eric Rothfus

Eric is the lead mentor for Chap Research, the Westlake High School program that is responsible for “The ChapR” and other innovative projects. He has been mentoring FLL, FTC, and FRC for the past 6 years at Westlake High School, Hill Country Middle School, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. Other than working with students, Eric is also a Venture Capitalist responsible for the creation of Guggenheim Venture Partners and Alara Capital, and was previously with TL Ventures. As an MIT-trained nerd, he has been an entrepreneur most of his life and received the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2000.

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Franz Weller

Franz is a senior software engineer at Roku Inc, where he works on chips for WiGig broadband wireless networking. He has previously held positions at FirstView Consultants, Ixia, Freescale Semiconductor, Sigmatel, and Nitero, Inc. He has worked on systems for multimedia, telephony, satellite communications, image processing, medical applications, and supercomputing. He has BSEE and MSEE degrees from Rice University. He is a technical mentor with Team Appreciate, and is also a member and former Scoutmaster of Troop 30 Austin.

John Pflueger

John Pflueger, Ph.D., is Dell’s Principal Environmental Strategist. In this role, John is responsible for driving Dell’s strategy on issues around Environmental Sustainability – including energy, greenhouse gas emissions, materials of concern, material use/recovery/reuse, water and the application of technology to environmental issues. In addition, John is Dell’s lead on understanding Net Positive and how it relates to Dell’s current and future business. John started mentoring FIRST teams in 2007, starting the first FLL team in the Eanes ISD district. In 2009 as the team moved to FTC, it merged into Westlake Robotics, starting FRC 2468’s Junior Varsity program.

Greg McKaskle

Coming from National Instruments, Greg McKaskle is an invaluable mentor for Team Appreciate’s programming team. From helping optimize a machine vision algorithm for identifying the hot goal in Aerial Assist to allowing our team to beta test his innovative subsystem framework for LabVIEW, Greg provides experience and serves as a readily available resource whenever we have questions. We can always rely on Greg to help us find innovative solutions for even the simplest problems. For example, Greg taught us how to write a file on the roboRIO in order to store encoder values at a known position. We would not have been able to have as smooth of a swerve drive without Greg’s ability to share his knowledge of PID. We greatly appreciate Greg’s contributions and we are excited to continue working with him.

Andy Howell

Andy Howell got started in robotics when a friend, Steve Sullivan, asked him to help out with the FTC team Steve was mentoring for the 2013-14 season. Andy enjoys machining and metal working as a hobby, so helping out in the shop is a natural fit. He enjoys teaching the students to use tools and solve problems. Before robotics, Andy was a Scout Master for Boy Scout troop 4, and karate instructor teaching elementary through adult students. He is a founding member of Rai Technology Inc, a provider of financial data distribution software. He develops software to analyze network protocols that transport financial data. Andy lived in Japan for 16 years, a country he fell in love with after serving there with the US Navy in the mid-80’s. In the Navy, he worked on systems to find and track Soviet submarines. His other interests include electronics, amateur radio, hiking, and the occasional foray into mounted archery.

Jim Wahlig

Mr. Jim Wahlig has been a valuable Westlake Robotics mentor for five years, with 3 years working with FTC and 2 with FRC. He graduated from UW-Madison with double major of Mathematics and Computer Science. Most of his career has been working on Operating Systems with the majority of his time spent on the Unix Kernel. His main area of focus has been file systems with the last 12 years working on NFS, the Network File System. His last position was Senior Principle Software Engineer at Oracle.

George Tan

George Tan was first exposed to FRC in high school. He moved on to mentoring as a student at Texas Tech, guiding FRC 1817 over a college career twice interrupted with deployments for the National Guard, once to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. George is a Woodie Flowers Finalist Award winner; he was nominated by FRC 1817 and won it in 2014 at the Hub City regional. George is a FIRST senior mentor for the West Texas region and helps teams locally in Austin as well as South Texas, when he has a spare minute (ha). He spearheaded the adoption of FTC in West Texas in 2011 and is very active as a key volunteer behind the Hub City regional. During the day he works at Unaliwear, a local Austin startup. George has a BS EE from Texas Tech.

Ryan Nazaretian

Ryan is a Server CPU Validation Engineer at Intel. He is an alumni of Team Fusion 364 from Gulfport, MS and has been involved with FIRST Robotics since 2003 and has been mentoring since 2009. Ryan graduated Mississippi State University with a BS and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, with a focus on automotive control networks (our robots are not much different). While going through graduate school, Ryan was the controls lead and engineering manager of MSU’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition team, which focused on hybridizing a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. In Ryan’s off-time, you will see him working on his 1974 Corvette, racing cars, kayaking, hiking, and usually some microcontroller project.