January 28, 2020

Our Mentors

Robert Tackett

Lead Mentor

Mr. Tackett is the lead advisor on our robotics team, and he has five years of experience mentoring FIRST teams. Mr. Tackett is the engineering teacher at Allentown High School. Mr. Tackett is the advisor because of his role as the PLTW Engineering teacher. He enjoys spending time learning with the students and seeing their ideas come to life. Mr. Tackett’s favorite part about our team is watching the students learn and create solutions to the challenges presented by the robotics competition. His hobbies include playing with his children, spending time outdoors, swimming, hiking, and reading.

Nikki Stout

Business Team

Nikki Stout is a FIRST Alumni and she mentors the Business Team. Including this year, Nikki has mentored FIRST Robotics teams for 9 years. Nikki is also the Director of Marketing Technology at TAPP Network. Nikki started to mentor our team when Elizabeth, a student from the Class of 2019, reached out to her for help running a FIRST Ladies event. She had just moved back home from living in Texas and was happy to assist Elizabeth. The event took a few months of planning but went extremely well. The following year, Elizabeth’s senior year, she asked Nikki if she wanted to mentor our team. Nikki accepted, and now, she truly believes that she has found where she belonged. 

Nikki continues to mentor our team because when she was a student on a FIRST team. During her senior year, she found out her mentor had Stage 4 Cancer. During late October he passed away and she was devastated. By the end of her senior year, she realized that she wanted to be there for kids who were like herself and others who were going through difficult times, while giving them the space to escape and express themselves freely. She wanted to be the person her mentor, Rich, was for her. So, she decided to continue with FIRST as a mentor. Nikki’s favorite part of being a mentor is seeing what amazing things the kids on our team can do. 

In 2007, Nikki started as a student on the Mighty Monkey Wrenches, team 2016; it was their rookie year. Nikki has 14 years and counting of FIRST experience. Besides volunteering with the team, she is a Key Volunteer with FIRST! For FIRST Robotics Competitions, she travels the country to volunteer as a Master of Ceremonies at events. She had the opportunity to do it at the World Championships as a Master of Ceremonies. For FIRST Tech Challenge, she was an announcer and judge. For FIRST Lego League, she has been the volunteer coordinator for the Global Innovation Award, an announcer, and a judge. Between all of the programs, she traveled a total of 14,548 miles and an estimated 412 hours just for events in 2019. Outside of mentoring and her job, she works for the Crisis Text Line. In addition, Nikki weight lifts 5 times a week as well as plays video games and board games. She also enjoys mountain climbing and rock climbing.

Deborah Berrien

Business Team

Mrs. Berrien mentors the Business Team on our robotics team. Her son recently graduated from our team, and she has experience mentoring FIRST teams for 3 years. She works as the Senior Director of Global Learning Management Systems at Johnson & Johnson. Mrs. Berrien continues to mentor our team because she strongly believes in the program and the skills, both technical and professional, it develops with the students. Additionally, her company is an avid supporter. Mrs. Berrien’s favorite part of mentoring is watching the students develop and the excitement of the competitions. Outside of mentoring and work, Mrs. Berrien is an Advocate for women in STEM majors/careers, working with philanthropies focused on homeless and previously homeless families, sports, the beach, and spending time with her amazing family. 

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Conn Leahy

Build Team

Mr. Leahy mentors the Build Team on our robotics team, and he has two years experience mentoring FIRST teams. Mr. Leahy is an Engineering Consultant who works for Store Tech Consulting and Target. He continues to mentor our team because he believes that mentoring is such an important aspect of career development, so why not start mentoring early and help students choose a career path. Mr. Leahy also finds mentoring very rewarding. He enjoys the team aspect of working with fellow mentors and students. Mr. Leahy’s favorite part about mentoring is seeing the team grow as a unit. He enjoys watching the collaboration and seeing the variety of ideas flow from team members to come up with a design or solve an issue. Mr. Leahy’s hobbies include coaching U16 Girls Soccer, surf fishing, and kayaking.

Daniel Domen

Scouting And Data Analytics

Mr. Domen mentors students working on Scouting and Data Analytics on our robotics team. He has two years experience mentoring FIRST teams, and has a daughter on the Business Team. Mr. Domen has worked for twenty years as a Senior Software Engineer for Ericsson. He also teaches Introduction To Computer Science classes at The College Of New Jersey part-time. 

Mr. Domen was initially driven to help our robotics team by a Facebook post from the Business Team asking for potential new members. He continues to mentor our team because FIRST gives students the best experience to prepare for the real world. From time management and teamwork to technical skills, Mr. Domen wanted to be a part of that. Mr. Domen’s favorite part about mentoring is watching students mature, use leadership skills, and become invested in their interests.

Outside of mentoring our team, Mr. Domen participates in triathlons. He has participated in three different ½ ironman races (swim, bike, and run for a total of 70.3 miles). In addition, Mr. Domen is a Six Flags fanatic and codes for fun.

Ed Kohler

Build Team

Ed Kohler mentors the Build Team on our robotics team, and he has eight years experience mentoring FIRST teams. 

In 2012-2013, when his oldest son was a sophomore, Mr. Kohler dropped off lunch to our team. He saw that there was a severe lack of proper equipment and skilled help. He asked his son what the team needed, so his son gave him a shortlist of things that would help the team move forward. Mr. Kohler went and purchased a few items to give to the team.

The following season, Mr. Kohler’s second son joined our team. However, things had not improved much. Mr. Kohler and Mr. White, another mentor, kept coming to the meetings, giving advice, and showing the kids some of the basics. The rest is history. The robots and competitions were one thing, but the real thrill was seeing students work together from concept to finished product.

Mr. Kohler continues to mentor our team because some of the most successful teams have longevity with their teachers, mentors, sponsors alumni and parents. He truly feels that continuity is important for the students. Some students you’ll have for 4 years, some will be part of the team for a year or two, but that constant is important for future success.

For Mr. Kohler, mentoring is also a great excuse to build things and work on his own skills. His favorite part about mentoring our robotics team is seeing the students hone and develop a skill that he had shown them when they previously had little to no experience.

Outside of mentoring, Mr. Kohler’s hobbies include volunteering and charity work with his Knights Of Columbus Council. He also recently retired from coaching lacrosse, which he really misses and may go back to soon.