Serving as team advisor of the WW-P MidKnight robotics teams for the last seven years has been a pleasure. As I retire from leading the MidKnight teams, I am proud to reflect on this amazing journey made possible for hundreds of students by the assistant advisors, mentors, parents, and community members.

Since 2010, the MidKnight Inventors high school FIRST Robotics Competition team has advanced to the World Championship five times, and in 2015 won 3rd place (in partnership with their alliance). Two FIRST Tech Challenge teams joined the MidKnight organization and found immediate success, winning the prestigious Connect and Inspire awards and berths to the State Championship and Super Regional competitions. Their potential looks even brighter this season.

The vast expansion of the FIRST LEGO League and FLL Jr. programs affiliated with the MidKnight family is awe-inspiring. MidKnight students have organized multiple scrimmages, tournaments, and outreach events to support these younger teams. Two student-coached FLL teams debuted in 2013, and the mentorship program has expanded to include 23 community teams and 9 student-coached K-3 FLL Jr. teams. The FLL teams have collected numerous local and state awards, two teams even progressing to the World Festiv
The MidKnight build site has moved from empty store fronts, to portable trailers, and finally to their permanent home at High School North. Even during the transient years, the teams matured. Student leaders developed a rigorous training curriculum (MidKnight U), preparing students to assume increasing responsibility over every aspect of competition. MidKnight students have been selected as three finalists and a winner of the global FIRST Robotics Dean’s List award in honor of their leadership and dedication to strengthening the FIRST program within their schools and community.

While the teams’ growth has been impressive, I’m proudest of the students’ commitment to the FIRST ideals of integrity, teamwork, and gracious professionalism: the FLL children reporting a referee’s point tally error, knocking themselves out of first place; the FTC teams assisting a rookie team for several hours the day before competition; the FRC team dedicating countless hours to teaching and inspiring so many kids over the years.

While I will miss the excitement of the robot build season and competitions, the cheerful noise of students collaborating to tackle complex problems, and the smiling faces of children discovering the magic of robotics, I’ll build upon these experiences as I develop an entrepreneurial plan I’ve contemplated for years. Leaving my leadership role with the WW-P teams has opened up the possibility of providing exciting, new opportunities for children in a planned environment in our communities and beyond.

I am honored to have received the 2016 FTC Mentor Award and want to publicly thank the teams for the nomination. To the Midknight family, I extend my deep gratitude for the remarkable and memorable adventure we’ve shared and with them the best of luck in the years to come.

— Kathryn Rogers, West Windsor