When Team 930 became Championship Finalists in 2019, many were surprised by our success, but Greg Billetdeaux has always believed we were capable of this achievement. His vision for relentless improvement is contagious, motivating students to achieve greatness.
Greg is an exceptional educator, apparent through the engineering concepts he conveys to students. He spends time outside meetings learning programming and CAD design so he can teach these concepts to us in ways we can understand. Greg encourages students to fail fast during the build season, pushing them to try ideas, work through problems, and iterate to learn from mistakes and improve; this has been critical to the team’s recent years of success. His ability to balance serious lessons with humor and compassion is what makes them so impactful. Whether fun commentary during a post-regional review or midseason pep talks to reduce stress, Greg always has the right message for us.
Our team’s success stems from having the right resources, and Greg helped increase the most important one: people. As a middle school VEX mentor, he encouraged larger groups of incoming students, and has a continued focus on retention. He actively recruits new mentors, providing more opportunities for 1:1 student learning. Greg’s impact as a team leader is clear: taking the team from 30 students and 9 mentors in 2015, to nearly 50 students and 25 mentors today.
After years of coordination, Greg moved our build space from a church basement to Mukwonago High School. He setup training so students could utilize the school’s wood, metal, and fabrication shops, allowing students to get more hands-on experience making parts. This enables Greg’s team goal of producing both competitive robots and rich student experiences.
Greg’s passion for FIRST is not confined to Team 930. In 2016 he became tournament director for Mukwonago FLL, and has run all 6 competitions since. When the Southeast Wisconsin Robotics Coalition began, Greg became its first president; he worked hard to form its structure, recruit members, and organize seminars to help the 20 participating teams gain knowledge. He helps the FIRST community through his work on various committees. These include locating areas in the state to start new teams and provide resources, and exploring a Wisconsin district model to make FIRST more accessible. As a member of the Wisconsin Regional Planning Committee, Greg uses his experience to help create a well-run event.
An FLL and FRC alum and mentor, Greg has spent almost 20 years in FIRST. His passion for STEM continues to grow year after year, which is evident through his dedication to Team 930 and the whole FIRST program. “He is proof of what a person can do to inspire others to come together, create a successful program, and become a shining example for other Wisconsin FRC teams,” says Dilpreet Randhawa of FRC #6574. Greg’s tremendous efforts to advance the FIRST vision have truly changed the lives of an entire community.