Mentors

Peter Randall

Peter Randall is one of our lead mentors. He started working at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in 2002 as a ’69 alumn of CHA. Along with Rob Ervin, they initiated the FIRST Vulcan Robotics Team 1218. In 2011 at the Trenton Regional he won the Woodie Flowers Award. He is now an Upper School engineering teacher and chair of Engineering and Robotics program at SCH Academy. We are honored to have such a devoted and intelligent head mentor who believes that very early is on-time.
prandall@sch.org

James Martin

“All of our futures will be profoundly dependant upon developments in science, technology, engineering, and robotics. It’s important that we educate, train, and support future generations of students in their active pursuit of innovation, through science, technology, and engineering. This is how we will change the world.”

James Martin is a physics and engineering teacher at SCH Academy. He joined our FIRST Robotics team as a mentor in 2009 after graduating from CHA in 1999. He is enthusiastic and willing to help students apply what they learn in class to designing and building a functioning robot. He’s an expert at helping students extend their ideas past their comfort zone and into what they can achieve. With his many gopro cameras, he also functions as the best videographer our team has ever had. We are honored to have such a dedicated mentor. In his latest adventure, he has begun designing and laser cutting custom guitars both for personal use and commercial sale.
jmartin@sch.org

Scott Rankin

“The amazing thing about the FIRST Robotics program is that it teaches students to work in all areas. From design to manufacture to marketing and programing, the students are able to see the whole process. Their success is a combination of teamwork and working past failures. They are learning life skills that will stay with them forever. The Vulcan Robotics team is second to none.  I love learning from the team and seeing their strategies for success”

Scott Rankin is the owner of Vulcan Spring, our main sponsor. He donates much of his personal time and expertise to the team. He is responsible for the success and growth of our program. We are very fortunate to have had him with us since 2007 and hope he will continue to be a contributing member and amazing mentor to our team.

Jonathan Frank

Jonathan Frank is the parent of 1218 alumnus, Charlie Frank. As the president of Metal Edge, he helps guide the business team with his expertise. With his support, we have been able to expand our program into what it is today. We try to give back to him by broadening our team from being just about the robot to a growing team with focuses on business, entrepreneurialism, and giving back to the community.

Alissa Sperling

Alissa Sperling is a physics teacher at SCH and became a mentor in the fall of 2015. Before her transition to SCH, Alissa was a mentor for team 321 at Central High School. During competitions, she can be found reffing on the fields, dancing like a star, and being the team beauty pageant queen. Alissa also spends her nights during robotics season working on robot design and making sure all members of 1218 are excelling academically.

Ben Ng

Ben Ng joined as a mentor in 2008 when his son joined as new a member of the team. Ben programmed our scouting system for 2016’s Stronghold. He also helps build game pieces, design prototypes, and keep us all sane in the middle of stressful build seasons.

Hal Martin

Hal Martin, CHA ’05, joined our team in 2015.  He recently moved back to Philadelphia and applied manufacturing knowledge to the 1218 lab. He is James Martin’s levelheaded brother and is the master task manager for 1218. Hal is always ready to assign jobs to those who need them.

Jonathan Torch

Jonathan Torch began teaching at SCH in 2013 as a high school math teacher.  He was able to resist the pull of robotics for three years before finally joining 1218 in the winter of 2016. Jonathan helps students build mechanical aspects of the robot.

Rob Ervin

“I would rather hear you say, ‘I am having difficulty solving the problem’ then ‘I can’t’. When you say “I can’t”, it means you have already given up.”

Along with Peter Randall, he’s responsible for the initiation of FIRST Team 1218 Vulcan Robotics in 2002. We also credit him with the expansion of our robotics team from a closet to a state-of-the-art robotics lab in our new science building. He has been a major part of the team’s success. He has started a new venture in his life by working with AIM Academy and 1218 to start FIRST Team 5407.

David Sheffield

“It’s not about the robot”

David Sheffield is the father of a Springside graduate and former team member.  As one of our valued mentors, he always lends a helping hand to those who need it. We are very lucky to have such a committed mentor who is willing to help the students push their limits.

Dan Newman

“Being a mentor for 1218 is an extraordinary opportunity to teach kids how to combine practical theory with applied thinking.”

Dan Newman works at the Boeing in Ridley Park, and he is the Senior Technical Fellow for Airplane product development and Boeing commercial airplanes as well as the Chief Engineer for vertical lift and Boeing defense, Space and Security. He helps the students learn how to build and engineer a product from start to finish by teaching strategy and organization. We are very excited to have him on board this year.

Tom Koscica

“Having a common goal pulls everyone together, feels like a family” ~Tom Koscica

Tom Koscica has been helping to mentor the students of 1218 for the past two years. He is a parent of a student member and has contributed much of his electrical engineering knowledge to our team, especially in the field of sensors. He is always helping students express their ideas to build the robot. We are so fortunate to have him as a mentor to our team, and we thank him for his dedication.