New Mentors Join Michigan City Robotics Team

Michigan-City-Robotics-CollageA Nuclear Engineer from MIT, retired high school Physics teacher, Mechanical Engineer and an Electronics Technician; these are some of the new mentors who have volunteered to help the Michigan City Robotics Team this season.

“With additional mentors this fall, we had the flexibility to create four separate student Project Teams that are working on community service projects,” lead mentor Al Walus said. “And the technical skills the students are learning now will increase the team’s capabilities as we approach the start of our competition season in January.”

New mentor Jeff Partynski, is Principal of GMXI Consultants and spent 25 years as a Mechanical Engineer before transitioning into education and teaching high school physics for nine years. Partynski sponsored his school’s Science Club, which participated in the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. His team reached nationals during their second year in competition.

“Two months into the season, I see many parallels between my engineering and teaching experience and the activities of the Michigan City Robotics Team,” Partynski said. “I hope to make a strong contribution to the Team this year.”

Christopher Copeland, a native of Jamaica, New York, is a shift technical advisor at the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Bridgman, Michigan and an associate evaluator with the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) in Atlanta, Georgia. He was recently adjunct faculty to the department of physics at Morehouse College.

Although Copeland’s career has taken him across the world with internships at the Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France and the Tokyo Electric Power Company in Tokyo, Japan, he has always had an extreme passion for civic engagement and extra-curricular activities.

“While a graduate student at MIT, I served as a mentor to aspiring college students,” Copeland said. “As a mentor for the Michigan City Robotics Team, I can continue to positively impact the lives of students.”

Not all mentors are engineers. Local businesswoman Laura Niemzyk-Condon volunteered to mentor students on the business and marketing aspects on operating a robotics team.

“The national FIRST Robotics Competition program has a designated team support system called Non-Engineering Mentors, or NEMO’s, and that’s where I fit in,” Niemzyk-Condon said. “As a former business owner with 20 years of experience in customer service, public relations and business management, I can mentor our students in developing and implementing our team’s Business Plan.”

To learn more about the Michigan City Robotics Team, visit their website at