As founder of FIRST Team 1710 fourteen years ago, Matt Breitkreitz inspires every student to believe in themselves, reach beyond their comfort zone and realize their dreams. Known to team members as Mr B., his motivation is responsible for the legacy of leadership and opportunity we know today. He encourages students to participate in team brainstorming, teaching everyone to express their ideas. When students approach Mr B. with a problem, he helps guide them to an effective solution. Through his exceptional mentorship and dedication to students, Mr B. has inspired all members of Team 1710.
FIRST Team 1710 alumnus Deb remembers being inspired by Mr B. during her time on Team 1710 when she was tasked with the creation and development of the YouGoGirl! initiative and Team 1710’s safety program. Looking back, wondering how this was all achieved in a single 6-week build season, Deb replied, “I will tell you how, we had Mr B. telling us we could do it.” Our YouGoGirl! initiative began as a simple poster, and it was only after Mr B.’s recognition of the program’s potential that it began to flourish. To date, it has directly inspired STEM interest in 8,144 girls and counting.
In addition to the lasting impact he has made on alumni, Mr B. inspires the current Director of Creativity of Team 1710, Ethan. Mr B. is invaluable in helping Ethan realize how much he can accomplish. Every day, Mr B. provides the gentle push that Ethan needs to further his education and make a difference in the world. He showed his gratitude by expressing, “I don’t think anybody else has made as much of an impact on me in my entire FIRST Robotics career.”
Mr B. was also the driving force behind Team 1710 alumnus Chauncey’s decision to become a computer scientist. Early on in high school, Chauncey was convinced he would remain complacent and attend community college. However, his time on Team 1710 and with Mr B. helped Chauncey realize that the skills he had meant there was no limit to his potential accomplishments. “I took this to heart when I applied to a multitude of 4-year universities and eventually accepted a position at KU,”Chauncey informed. While at college, Mr B. continued to provide the advice that inspired many of his decisions, and pushed him to not settle for anything less than greatness. Midway through his sophomore year, Chauncey states, “I owe so many of my accomplishments to the [encouraging] voice of Mr B. in the back of my head, pushing me to do great things.”
Mr B. has and will continue to inspire and motivate members of Team 1710. Team 1710 proudly nominates Matt Breitkreutz for the 2019 Woodie Flowers Award.