Mike Bastoni was the FIRST Championships Woodie Flowers Award winner in 1998. At the time, Mike was the lead teacher on team 23 from Plymouth North High School in Massachusetts. This was a significant year for Mike and FRC team 23, as they also won the Chairman’s Award.
Mike and his team were very active in FIRST team recruitment and development in the mid-90’s, as he was often interviewed in FIRST‘s promotional videos at that time. Mike was also well known for organizing and running an off-season FRC event in Plymouth called “Rumble at the Rock”. This event became so popular that it had to be an invite-only event, where the best FRC teams Rumbled. Many FRC off-season events learned how to run an event from team 23 by attending Rumble and by listening to Mike at workshops he led, talking about how to run an off-season event.
In 2000, Mike was part of a group of roboticists and educators who started a high school combat robotics competition named BattleBots IQ. BBIQ capitalized on the popularity of the BattleBots competitions, which were televised and highly popular in the early 00’s. This effort got Mike involved with various types of combat robotics competitions, and he focused his efforts into this community. This concentration on the combat robotics led to Mike and team 23’s exit from FIRST Robotics.
In 2001, Mike created a small business with a partner, named GEARS Educational Systems. GEARS is a company providing hardware for STEM education, focusing on intermediate-level robotics platforms. GEARS was recently sold to DEPCO, LLC.
Although Mike was not active as a mentor on a FIRST team since 2001, he has been active on the WFA committee, helping to choose WFFA winners since 2004. During recent years, Mike has been active in presenting the WFFA at a few Regional FIRST events. It is also exciting to see that Mike and team 23 is returning to FIRST in 2012. FIRST is a better place with Mike Bastoni back as a FIRST team leader and mentor.