For 13 years Mr. Berglund has inspired 1000’s of FIRST participants. When asked about his qualities, these participants always say: dedication, communication, and inspiration.
Mr. B. is instrumental in making STEM dreams come true. When he moved to Tampa in 2006, he was disappointed to find that one of the most populous counties in Florida had no FLL program—so he started the county’s first FLL team. He became a coach, then regional FLL coordinator, and then state FLL coordinator – and was recognized as FLL Volunteer of the Year at the 2017 World’s in Houston!
FLL wasn’t enough for Mr. B. In 2012, FRC Team 1369 lacked mentorship and had almost disappeared. As a parent, he decided to save the program and, with a small group of students, led the resurgence of our FRC team. The team has grown to over 60 students and competed in 4 World Championships, last year being a finalist in the Carver subdivision.
Approximately 5 years ago, Mr. Berglund also took over the role of lead mentor for the entire Middleton FIRST Robotics program (which in addition to our FRC team includes 2 FTC teams).
Mr. Berglund uses FIRST to bring STEM to life! Rather than designing or building the robot for us, he challenges us to come up with our own ideas—and then to defend them. For example, this year’s student leadership and Mr. B. formed a design review board where the designers present and defend their ideas and CAD drawings to a review board of mentors and other students in a similar fashion to what is found in business. His dedication, hard work, and unrelenting faith in us has developed many fantastic leaders over the past years—leaders that became Dean’s List Finalists and attend highly-regarded engineering schools, pursuing their STEM dreams.
Mr. B. strongly believes that STEM opportunities should be open to children of all ages and social-economic backgrounds. To fulfill this belief and because many
elementary/ middle school students near our high school are not able to afford typical robotics camps, a few years ago he inspired Club Leadership to organize a week-long robotics summer camp for these students in which the tuition is free or reduced. This popular, student-run camp has grown substantially over the past 3 years and now is a 2 week camp that has an enrollment of 100+. The camp has resulted in the creation of an FLL team in a low-income school next to our school and numerous campers deciding to come to our magnet high school so they can continue exploring STEM subjects.
In our club, Mr. B. has created a culture that emphasizes the importance of service and outreach. Our motto this year is “Think Globally, Act Locally”, the idea being that we need our future leaders to be prepared globally but we need to make sure that we locally develop those leaders from all groups in our community. Because of Mr. B.‘s example, our Club spreads the importance of STEM and First throughout the community by participating in thousands of hours of outreach, whether through demonstrations, the above summer camp, hurricane supply drives, or helping teams locally or at tournaments (last year, e.g., our team spent over a day helping a rookie team at a competition programming its robot). This year our team also built the field elements for a new Tampa robotics center that is open to all Florida teams for practice.
Mr. B.’s dedication to our Club & FIRST has stayed strong even though he had to endure the loss of his wife this year after a long battle with cancer.
RMr. B. is a dedicated and inspiring mentor, his impact going far beyond our Club. We are grateful for his years of inspiring service.