East West

Since 1998, when Mark Breadner founded the original Canadian FIRST team, he has  been an important figure in FIRST. Presentations to corporations procured the support  of now long-standing sponsors, guaranteeing the prosperity of the movement he  started for years to come. Mr. Breadner’s tenure as Canada’s Regional Director of  FIRST, saw the formation of 73 FRC teams. Twenty-three were formed in 2002 when  his efforts brought the first international regional competition to Canada. The  Canadian Regional (now the Greater Toronto Regional) has become one of FIRST’s  largest regionals, while the number of Canadian teams continues to grow. 

Mr. Breadner has been an influential mentor on Team 188 for 11 years. His practical,  innovative input and insight are always treated with the utmost respect. However, his genius is not always immediately obvious. Team alumnus Shawn Lim, remembers one  of Mr. Breadner’s bold suggestions: 

“Pantyhose – we need a piece of pantyhose right across the top. That’ll fix  everything.”  

It takes a gifted, deft communicator like Mr. Breadner to convince engineers and team  members that the most effective solution was a woman’s undergarment. This ability to  communicate allowed him to publicize the importance of FIRST in the early years and  start the transformation of our society. 

Even today, he is all about enthusiasm for FIRST. He created and integrated the  Science, Math, and Technology program into Woburn Collegiate Institute’s curriculum,  aiming to enhance the education of students in math, physics, and computer science.  Its ultimate goal is to inspire a new generation of students to challenge themselves. Mr. Breadner’s infectious enthusiasm has also captured his family. His wife Rhona,  along with his children Lauren, Chris, and Jessica, and parents Jim and Elsa frequently  volunteer at FIRST events. 

Many former students involved in FIRST today attribute their involvement to Mr.  Breadner’s influence. Committee chair (Waterloo Regional) and Team 188 alumnus,  Ian Mackenzie, is one of these people, asserting, “Mark Breadner has been a constant  source of inspiration and guidance (and fun) from the start of [his] grade [nine] year  up to the present day, working on [his] Master’s degree in engineering.” The success  stories extend beyond Ian. Two of his protégés, Karthik Kanagasabapathy and Shawn, have gone on to win Regional Woodie Flowers Awards. Karthik insists that Mr. Breadner  is, “the most effective leader [he has] ever met, [knowing] how to get the most out of  people, and how to set up an organization to function at his best.” This defines a true  mentor, one who helps everyone fulfill their true potential. By interacting with them  on a very personal level, Mr. Breadner builds the character of students, making them  strong individuals who go on to contribute in the FIRST community.  

Two such students were Ian and Karthik. Today, they run one of FIRST’s most  successful teams. He is a true inspiration. Ian even goes as far as to say, “I can think  of nobody else who has had such an extraordinary influence on who I am today.” 

Team 1114 would not be around if not for the efforts of Ian and Karthik. But the  efforts of Ian and Karthik would never have been possible without Mr. Breadner’s  dream:

“FIRST – we need a piece of FIRST right across the country. That’ll fix everything.” 

Thanks to all the time and effort Mr. Breadner has put into building FIRST in Canada,  that dream is now a reality. He has demonstrated to others that hard work and passion  are an unbeatable combination, one that has put Canada on the FIRST map. This is  why many assert that “Mr. Breadner is FIRST in Canada.”