Congratulations Mr. Breadner! FIRST in Canada has come a long way, but none of it would have been possible without you. This award may come as a surprise to some people because of how humble you are about all that you have done, but to those of us whose lives you have touched, it is an understatement to say this is long overdue.
The submission is included below.
(I had the privilege to be involved with the submission process this year, but the real credit goes to the students who wrote the submission: Jessica Aun, Diriye Hassan, and Oliver Mao. However, countless students, mentors, alumni, and members of the FIRST community in Canada played a role in how it all came together. Thank you to all of you.)
*Note that after the Waterloo Regional this year, Ian Mackenzie is now also a Woodie Flowers Finalist Award Winner.
“Pantyhose – we need a piece of pantyhose right across the top. That’ll fix everything.”
It takes a gifted communicator and an engineering visionary like Mr. Breadner to convince engineers and team members that the most effective solution to fix our robot is a woman’s undergarment.
It was this incredible ability to communicate and innovate that allowed him to bring FIRST to Canada. Ever since founding the original Canadian FIRST team in 1998, he has been an important figure in FIRST. Corporate presentations obtained the support of long-standing sponsors, which guaranteed the prosperity of the movement he started, well into the future. Mr. Breadner oversaw the creation of 73 FRC teams as the Regional Director of the Canadian Regional. Twenty-three of these teams were formed in 2002 when his efforts brought the first international regional to Canada. Every year the number of Canadian teams continues to grow making the Greater Toronto Regional (formerly the Canadian Regional) one of FIRST’s largest events.
Mr. Breadner continues to maintain his passion for the goal of FIRST: to transform the culture of our society to one that celebrates science, technology, and engineering. At Woburn Collegiate Institute, home of Team 188, he created and integrated the Science, Math, and Technology Program (SMT) into the school’s curriculum, aiming to enhance the education of math, physics, computer science, and technological studies. Using elements of FIRST, including Vex, SMT inspires students to challenge themselves and maximize their untapped potential.
Mr. Breadner sees possibilities that others do not, his pantyhose suggestion was just one example. Karthik Kanagasabapathy, Team 188 alumnus and the emcee at both the Waterloo and Greater Toronto Regionals, insists that Mr. Breadner is “the most effective leader [he has] ever met, [knowing] how to get the most out of people, and how to set up an organization to function at its best.”
For the past eleven years, Mr. Breadner has been an influential mentor for Team 188. With his degree in mathematics, he uses his expertise in analysis and strategy to help guide Team 188 in the right direction, always placing an emphasis on simplicity. His guidance has helped students remain focussed on the goals at hand, allowing them to fulfill their true potential. He inspires even the meekest to become leaders, who themselves go on to inspire others. His ability to ingrain a love for FIRST in everyone he meets has led many to attribute their continued involvement to his influence.
To see his impact, one has to look no further than any Canadian FIRST event, where alumni take on every volunteering role. Protégés, Karthik Kanagasabapathy and Shawn Lim, have gone on to win Regional Woodie Flowers Awards, while Ian Mackenzie, also a Team 188 alumnus, is the Committee Chair of the Waterloo Regional. Ian asserts that, “Mark Breadner has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance (and fun) from the start of my [freshman] year up to the present day, working on my Master’s degree in engineering. I can think of nobody else who has had such an extraordinary influence on who I am today.”
Today, Ian and Karthik are cornerstones of one of FIRST’s most successful teams, Team 1114, who like every team in Canada owe their existence to Mr. Breadner’s dream:
“FIRST – we need a piece of FIRST right across the country.”
The time and effort Mr. Breadner has put into building FIRST in Canada has made that dream a reality. He has demonstrated to others that hard work and passion are an unbeatable combination, one that has put Canada on FIRST’s map. This is why Mr. Breadner is FIRST in Canada.
Congratulations once again Mr. Breadner.