As the students continue along their journey in FIRST Robotics, they tend to move into leadership and mentoring roles. Erin Piacitelli, President of Middleton Robotics Club, is no exception. Erin has been coming to ROBOTICON Tampa Bay for years with her school's teams and she agrees that it's a great event to practice, train new team members and have a lot of fun.
Middleton High School is a STEM Magnet School in Tampa, Florida that places an emphasis on robotics in a really wonderful way. It's not just a club, the kids also have robotics classes as part their curriculum. They take their teams and competitions very seriously. Middleton's Robotics Club currently has 1 FIRST Robotics Competition Team, 2 FIRST Tech Challenge Teams and 1 VEX Robotics Team. The students are able to participate in any aspect of the process that they would like and all the teams are there for each other to help brainstorm and mentor. They even mentor middle school students and invite them to join in on the development and brainstorming sessions to help them get involved and know the process when they get to high school.
Their structure is quite impressive. It's a collaborative effort that has strengthened over the years with a tiered leadership approach. The club itself has captains and vice presidents, comprised of students, with specialized roles. Then each individual team has a coach and at least one adult mentor.