East West

I’m Team 1369 captain, Middleton High School, Tampa, FL. I respectfully nominate our mentor, Rich Berglund, for the Woodie Flowers Award. My passion for engineering started when my grandfather helped me build a Pinewood Derby car and increased through more complicated projects with my grandfather. After he passed, FRC provided the fuel and Mr. Berglund has taken on a material role in fulfilling my passion as well as all Minotaur team members.

Mr. Berglund coached FIRST teams since 2004. He has been the organizer of dozens of FIRST events, has served in FIRST volunteer positions at all levels and has assisted other teams. Although not a formal engineer or educator, he inspires us to maximize potential by asking questions and guiding discussions. For example, after we identify options for drivetrains, he challenges us to analyze each aspect of the options. What are the positives and negatives? What challenges will the selected drivetrain present and how will it affect our schedule? He doesn’t tell us how to design/build a robot, but challenges us to defend our answers. He congratulates and compliments our successes when a design element works as predicated or a sub team works well together. When we have failures, he reminds us to analyze what we learned and move on. 

No one is more enthusiastic about FIRST. He models FIRST core values on a daily basis. For example, our team has helped a rookie team build their robot. He also encourages us to be involved in numerous outreach events. Mr. Berglund values academic success above all. Although the county has a minimum 2.0 GPA requirement for extracurricular activities, participation in robotics requires a 2.75. It is amazing how students with a low GPA will work harder in their classes to stay on the team.

He’s a great communicator. His enthusiasm and his tireless effort communicates the FIRST values, a love for learning, the value of dedication to a cause, and helping those less fortunate. He also has set up various daily team communication tools, so all understand our accomplishments for the day and the challenges ahead.

Mr. Berglund’s comprehensive parent meetings inform, answer questions and communicate the benefits of FIRST to those who don’t fully understand the commitment and benefits of a successful STEM program. He’s the robotics champion for our school and this year, he convinced the county school board to approve a Varsity letter for robotics – benefiting all schools in the county.

He also champions STEM education to anyone in the community; county commissioners, school board, USF Dean of Engineering, and businesses leaders. He is working to establish a county robotics center with full FRC, FTC, and FLL fields, workshop tools, machinery, and work/storage space to benefit FIRST teams throughout the state.

Hopefully, you understand why Mr. Berglund is a great coach/ mentor. Our team will be forever grateful to him and the values he teaches. We hope you will consider this nomination seriously.