Full Time Paid FRC Head Coach/Mentor Opening in Portland

After eighteen years a head coach of FRC1540, the Flaming Chickens in Portland, Oregon I’ve decided to step away as head coach/mentor and Engineering Program Director at Catlin Gabel School. I’ll still be associated with the team but it’s time for someone to take the program forward full time. We are looking for my successor.

Running the extracurricular Engineering program at Catlin is a full-time paid faculty position. You’ll be the head coach and mentor of the FRC team but also coordinate Community Engineering projects the students take part in. This is currently a grade 8-12 program, but we’d like it to extend other activities further down in the grades of our preK-12 private school.

It’s unusual for a FRC program to have a full-time paid coach/mentor but we do so because Catlin is a commuter school with students coming from up to 45 minutes in every direction. Having them meet at night when other mentors are available isn’t an option so the lab needs to be staffed every day after school by someone who can cover all the bases. It’s also an asynchronous program with kids coming and going at random times after school as their schedules permit. The mentor is the glue that keeps the train on the tracks. I’m the only adult there most days. My replacement would ideally be a Jack/Jill of all trades, a little mechanical, a little software, some electronics, marketing, etc. Mechanical and management is the most important, though.

The team is proud of our moto that “Adults don’t touch the robot or the keyboard.” The robot is 100% student designed and built. I give advice and teach skills, of course, but this is the student’s creation. It’s organized like a small company with student managers in charge of various departments. Since there is only one of me, those student managers are essential to the team’s operation.

1540 has done well over the years qualifying for world championships the last 12 out of 13 years. We’ve also won over $60K for community engineering projects like Source America Design Challenge, Lexus EcoChallenge, MIT Inventeam, etc. This is a flagship program at our school with around 10% of the upper school students taking part. This year we are over 50% non-male.

We’ve qualified for the PNW District Championships again this year so we’ll see if this will be our 13th world championship.

Anyway, if you are an adult technical leader of a team that advances to championships more often than not and would like to chat about this opportunity, drop me a line at [email protected]. If you happen to be going to PNW championships next week, let’s meet up.


A common question I seem to be getting about this position is the time frame. In the teaching world, “full time” is the school year late August through June. You’d get summers off as well as a week at Thanksgiving, 2 week winter break, a week-long spring break. Your salary continues all year as do the benefits. Yes, it includes various healthcare options, 401k, etc.

Thank you for your service Dale! You’ve certainly earned some time off. I wasn’t even on 1540, but you had a major positive impact on my time in FRC, both as a student and a mentor. Someone will have some big shoes to fill.


Thanks Bryce! That means the world to me.

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To answer the next question I keep getting, I’m told the official job description should be posted by the end of the week. It will go here when it does. I’ll post here when I hear about it going up. Feel free to reach out in the mean time. As the departing faculty member, I’m not on the official search committee but I am screening replacements, doing technical interviews, etc.

This job is now posted on the Catlin website. You apply there but feel free to reach out to me with any questions. This search likely to move quickly so if you are thinking about it, think fast.


Word is the application process will end a week from Friday, 4/22/22. I realize for some of you that’s in the middle of champs so if this is of interest, apply before that craziness. The application through the portal above is required but it’s a good idea for us to chat before then. Email me at [email protected].

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We are excited to announce that Kevin Forbes will be the new Director of Engineering starting August 1. Kevin has been involved in FIRST Robotics since his own high school years, and he has most recently coached team 4183, a local community team, since 2011. Kevin will come to Catlin Gabel from Tucson, AZ where he currently works in industry as an electrical engineer. Kevin earned both his BS and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Arizona. The search committee and Upper School students involved in the search were impressed with Kevin’s clear understanding of all aspects of robotics competitions, his technical expertise, and his ability to think broadly about the possible future of connecting engineering to the younger grades. Welcome, Kevin!

I’ll still be around FRC and the team so it’s not like I’m going away. Kevin will be the head coach/mentor for 1540 though.


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