East West

For a decade now, Ronald Kunicki has been the secret ingredient in Team 694’s recipe for success. It’s a simple formula: take incoming team members, leave them with Ron for four years – and voila! – you have passionate engineers. Ron is the perfect blend of cheerfulness, enthusiasm and wisdom. What makes him even greater is how easy it is to pick up these traits when working with him. 

Ron has been with our team since his daughter, Theodora, joined in 2004 and has become more committed year after year. When asked why he still stays with our team even after his daughter graduated many years ago, Ron says, “With team 694, my mind continues to be entertained, and sometimes I even have to go home and research the problems the team asks me.”

Ron shares not only his extensive knowledge with our team members, but also something much more important: the desire and means to learn new things. He teaches our team that behind every tool and every mechanism, there is an incredible story and a brilliant mind that invented it. 

An engineering connoisseur, Ron’s contagious passion for engineering is an integral component of our team’s dynamic. He makes sure that we grow intellectually and as individuals. “A lot of mentors are interested in making successful robots,” Joe Ricci, a mentor of our team put it. “But Ron is interested in making successful people.”

Half of any robot build is matching the right tool to the right problem; Ron facilitates this by helping students understand how each tool works and why it works that way. He is always willing to advise them on what tool to use and teach them how to use it.  Ron is essential in restocking our lab every season and often comes in with new tools and a huge grin on his face, saying “You’re gonna love this new toy!”

Ron has the kind of dedication to our team and to the FIRST community that only genuine devotion can foster. He shows up to all of our meetings, often arriving before school lets out so he can be there for us from the moment we set our goals for the day, to the moment he sees them realized. He knows that every second we spend in the lab counts.

Ron’s mentorship to the team impacts everyone. One great success story is of Joanna Zhu, New York Regionals Dean’s List finalist in 2013. Ron helped nurture her love for engineering, and she went on to be the President of Engineering from 2013 to 2014. The next year, she was accepted into the MIT class of 2017. She goes as far as to say, “Ron is pretty much my dad away from my dad.”

There isn’t a single member of StuyPulse who hasn’t benefitted from Ron’s presence. He has guided us through the highs and the lows of the season. And he has demonstrated to us how beautiful the world of engineering is and how amazing it is to be part of it. Ron’s commitment to the students of Team 694 and his passion for our team shows that he has truly embodied the spirit and message of FIRST.