Our mentors are a group of kind and helpful people, who, together, donate over 130 hours every week to helping the students learn through FIRST. Our mentors are all volunteers from our community, and all of them are self-coached in FIRST technology. Their professions and educational backgrounds range widely, from a high school chemistry teacher to a forestry technician. Our team is very fortunate to have mentors who care enough to use their free time to help us become better prepared for our futures.
This year our mentors include:
Ed Katz is a retired chemistry and physics teacher from Bonners Ferry High School. He started the team in 2007, after looking for an extracurricular activity that supported STEM education. Ed enjoys working at a peer level with students, encouraging them to be leaders and risk takers. He also enjoys seeing students mature over their high school careers and is always happy to hear from alumni. Ed was the recipient of the 2013 Woodie Flowers Finalist Award at the Autodesk Oregon Regional. He greatly appreciates the overwhelming support and generosity the team has received from our community.
Jill Katz is a retired first grade teacher who has been a part of the team since her husband, Ed Katz, started Alpha+ in 2007. She is a business team mentor. Jill also enjoys spreading awareness of the importance of STEM education and FIRST throughout the community and beyond. “Being on the team has confirmed for me the value of collaboration, passion and commitment.”
John Kaessinger is a Signal Inspector for BNSF Railroad. He joined the team in our 2007 rookie year with his son, Jacob. John is a build and electrical team mentor and pit foreman who has stayed with Alpha+ long after Jacob graduated and went on to become a mechanical engineer. He loves watching the students push themselves past their comfort zone and learn from their experiences. As a mentor, John has learned to be more patient, and recognizes that everybody can contribute something useful. He says, “Never discount somebody; little sparks of genius can come from all corners.”
Adam Krezman joined FIRST Team 2130 as a design and build mentor. He found out about the team through his son, Conner, who is now a mechanical engineering major. Aside from being a mentor, Adam works for Idaho Granite Works. His favorite parts about the team are the students and sharing his knowledge with them. He believes that FIRST is a great program.
Carrick Remaley came to FIRST Team 2130 in 2010 as a build, design, and programming mentor. He found out about the team through our lead mentor, Ed Katz, who was a former colleague at Bonners Ferry High School. Carrick became a mentor after retiring from his job as a math teacher. His favorite part about the team is how we encourage everyone to contribute. Carrick feels he has learned to have patience and calm his nerves at stressful times such as competitions.
Albert Solt joined FIRST Team 2130 during our rookie year. He is a semi-retired controls engineer and programmer and he brings some of those skills to the team as a build and design mentor. His favorite thing about the team is seeing the smiles on people’s faces when something works. Albert has learned, and is still learning, that students are a lot smarter than he thought and that they have great ideas. He appreciates the benefits that FIRST provides to students.
Mike Tymrak has been with the team since our rookie year in 2007, when his son, Brennan, joined Alpha+. Mike was taught to always make a difference, wherever he can. When he saw the positive effect FIRST has on the lives of students, he didn’t hesitate to become a mentor. Mike doesn’t officially mentor any one sub-team; he fills the niches. When there is a job that needs to be done, Mike does it. He started bringing blue totes full of food to the meetings in 2008 when he saw that the students were hungry after being in school all day. This developed into in the creation of “Mike’s Chuck Wagon Lunch” at competitions. Mike is a retired Forestry Technician for the U.S. Forest Service and a volunteer cross-country coach at Bonners Ferry High School. He enjoys the energy and enthusiasm of the students and how they mature throughout their time in FIRST Robotics. Some of the things Mike has learned from mentoring our team include patience, working in a group atmosphere, and getting out of his comfort zone when meeting new people.
Dennis Weed joined FIRST Team 2130 as a business mentor, having heard about the team from Mike Tymrak. Dennis has worked in senior management for Boeing, and he currently works as Economic Development Director for Boundary County. He enjoys working around his house and farm as well as on other business entrepreneurship ventures. Some of his favorite parts about the team are seeing the robot develop and watching students get involved in both building the robot and team management. Dennis enjoys seeing the excitement generated in students by the FIRST program and appreciates the support of our community.
Joe Reed learned about Alpha+ when his son, Tim, joined our first year team. He later became a mentor in 2010 when his son, Andrew, joined the team. His daughter, Kalika, joined in 2011. Joe enjoys working with the design, build and programming subteams. When asked what he has learned through the years, he answered that he has learned so many things that he can’t name them all.
Dan Claphan joined the team for our 2017 season when his youngest daughter, Gina, moved up from the middle school FIRST LEGO League team. Dan was an FLL mentor, so it only made sense for him to become an FRC mentor. All three of Dan’s children have been team members. As a build team mentor, Dan has been totally amazed with what kids on the team can accomplish.
Sara Yoder joined the team during the 2017 robotics season with her husband, Dan Claphan. All three of their children have been team members. Sara plays a very big role in the business room. She has learned how much robotics expands teenagers’ critical thinking skills. Sara also enjoys that her whole family is involved.
Julie Krezman, like her husband Adam, joined Alpha+ in 2015 after her son, Conner, became a part of the team. She found out about the team when her son was younger and a mentor invited them to an FRC event. As a mentor, Julie is a great asset to the business team. She has learned what an amazing program FIRST is and the wonderful opportunities that are given to students who participate.
Chad Nuxoll joined the team in 2018. He found out about Robotics through a FIRST video on Reddit and later decided to see if there was a team in Bonners Ferry. He join Alpha+ to inspire kids. Outside of Robotics, he works as an automation engineer at Unisep Packaging in Sandpoint, ID. In Robotics he helps with design and fixing things. His favorite part of Robotics is the smiles everyone has.
Bailey Cavender joined FIRST Team 2130 in season 2018-19 as part of the business team. While in high school, she wanted to be part of a club like Robotics but there was no such thing. Alpha+ started a year after she graduated but her sister, Chloe, was able to be part of it along with her brother, Tucker. When she started to work at Bonners Ferry High School as an English teacher, she heard that the Robotics team needed mentors so she decided to jump in. While not being an English teacher, she enjoys staying warm and writing books. She enjoys watching the interaction between the students and their creative minds with Robotics. She believes that a great quality that Robotics gives to students is the ability to think critically.