Staff and Operating Partners
FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA
The FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA program places VISTA members in strategic in locations to support FIRST programs. IndianaFIRST is looking for several VISTA members to serve for at least 12 months in Indianapolis with a focus on targeting underserved/underrepresented areas where the FIRST VISTA members work to both grow and sustain FIRST Programs with the goal of reducing poverty by inspiring kids through FIRST programs that expose them to STEM, opening doors and opportunities they may otherwise never realize.
AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a number of benefits including a monthly living allowance, the choice of an Education Award or End of Service Stipend, and health coverage.
Click here to learn more about the position and apply on the my.americorps.gov website.
Current Staff and Partners
IndianaFIRST Executive Director
Renee Becker-Blau has been involved with FIRST robotics since 2003. She began as a member of FRC team 1675 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and continued her involvement in college by founding GO FIRST, a FIRST alumni student group, and serving as president of the program for three years. GO FIRST supports the local FIRST community by connecting college students to teams in need of mentors, running workshops for teams on campus, and volunteering at FIRST events. After graduating from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Scientific and Technical Communications, Renee became the FIRST Senior Mentor of Minnesota before moving to Indiana in August of 2013 to become a FIRST AmeriCorp VISTA to work on creating capacity building programs. She became Executive Director of IndianaFIRST in September of 2014.
IndianaFIRST Program Director
Chris has been involved in FIRST since his son joined an FLL team as a 6th grader in 2010. Over the past few years he has been a volunteer at FLL, FTC, and FRC events throughout Indiana and began mentoring on FRC 1741 Red Alert Robotics in 2012. Professionally, Chris was a classroom teacher for 10 years and most recently has worked in the nonprofit sector for a variety of nonprofits in Central Indiana.
As the Program Director, Chris will work part-time with existing teams on sustainability and help grow IndianaFIRST throughout the state.
FIRST Senior Mentor of Northern Indiana
Keith Hall has more than twenty years’ experience in the mainframe computer industry. He was recruited into FIRST in 2007 by a local FRC team after they discovered he was teaching an after school introduction to robotics class at a nearby high school. He is a member of the Midwest Regional Planning Committee, mentors FRC team 2171, and judges at a FLL Qualifying Tournament. Hall is attending Purdue Calumet, studying physics and mathematics while working towards a license to teach high school sciences.
Visit firstinspires.org to read more about FIRST Senior Mentors.
FIRST Senior Mentor of Central Indiana
Rachel Miller started her FIRST career as an FLL student in the Center Grove School Corporation, and she discovered her passion for STEM in 2005. From 2008-2012 she was a student on FRC team 1741, Red Alert Robotics. Because of her time in the FIRST program she went on to study Technology Engineering Education and Human Resources and Development at Indiana State University. Through her college career she has stayed involved in FIRST by volunteering at events and becoming the head non-engineering mentor for FRC team 5188, Area 5188: Classified Robotics. She loves working with students, and she has an enthusiastic spirit about STEM. She hopes to inspire people to realize the importance of it.
Visit firstinspires.org to read more about FIRST Senior Mentors.
FIRST LEGO League Junior Operational Partner
Nicole Mauntel first became interested in volunteering with youth as an AmeriCorps Sycamore Service Corps member working with at-risk adolescents while in college. She had the opportunity to go to Honduras where she taught English to students. Nicole has always had an interest in experiencing other cultures. She was able to feed her passion for travel by studying for a semester in Japan, but she still dreams of being able to see the rest of the world. These experiences have given her a wider world view to share with her students. Nicole was a special education assistant and ELL instructor at a small rural school in southern Indiana. While at this school she volunteered her time as a coach to a middle school FIRST Lego League team. She worked with students on team building skills, and helped teams to think outside the box to solve world problems. After being an IndianaFIRST VISTA in 2014 through 2016, where she worked on increasing capacity and building FIRST programs in the state of Indiana, she transitioned into her role as the FLL Jr. partner!
Indiana FLL Operational Partner
In her role as the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Operational Partner for Indiana, Carol collaborates with FLL Qualifying Tournament directors in Indiana to support FLL teams and maintain/expand the FLL tournament system. Carol oversaw the growth of FLL from one state championship in 2002 to the current status of eleven qualifying tournaments with capacity to serve 275 teams. Carol also facilitates the coordination of the Indiana FLL Qualifying Tournament (QT) registration/advancement process, oversees the FLL State Tournament Directors Committee, and works in collaboration with other FIRST® representatives to establish FLL Coach Clinics and related training programs. She is the FLL liaison to FIRST® ensuring that Indiana QT’s follow FLL guidelines and is a member of the IndianaFIRST® State Operating Committee (SOC).
Carol has fifteen years experience teaching at the secondary and university levels. Her teaching focused on communications where she was also a coach, tournament director, and regional judge. For more than eighteen years Carol has directed a variety of informal educational programs in communications and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities. She has been involved with Indiana state/regional STEM competitions for eleven years as the FLL Championship Tournament director, coordinator of the Indiana Future City® Competition, the director of the NE Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair and member of the Northeast Indiana Engineers Week Committee. Carol is a member of the IPFW STEM Council and works with faculty, volunteers, and the outreach staff promoting STEM education, supporting event participants, and coordinating ETCS Outreach events.
Indiana FTC Operational Partner
In her role as the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) Operational Partner for Indiana, Lori supports the growth of the FTC program, by coordinating FTC Qualifying Tournaments, managing team growth, and providing local team support. She is the FTC liaison to FIRST® ensuring that Indiana QT’s follow FTC guidelines and is a member of the IndianaFIRST® State Operating Committee (SOC).