Special Guests

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Mayor Joe Hogsett -

City of Indianapolis

Joseph “Joe” Hogsett is the 49th mayor of Indianapolis. Before taking office in 2016, Mayor Hogsett served as Indiana’s Secretary of State and United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Mayor Hogsett’s focus is on preventing crime, protecting taxpayers, and creating opportunities for working families. He is also dedicated to investing Indianapolis’ resources back into our neighborhoods.

A lifelong Hoosier, Mayor Hogsett has lived and worked in Indianapolis for more than 30 years. He earned his undergraduate degree and law degree from Indiana University. He received graduate degrees from Butler University and the Christian Theological Seminary. He and his wife Steph have three children.

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Jake Koressel -

Computer Science Specialist -

Indiana Department of Education

Jake Koressel is a former math and computer science teacher and currently serves as the Computer Science Specialist at the Indiana Department of Education. Jake believes strongly that all students in Indiana deserve to have access to a quality computer science education. His work focuses on connecting teachers with computer science professional development experiences and providing technical assistance to school districts working to implement their vision for computer science. Originally from Evansville, Indiana, Jake earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana University – Bloomington, and currently resides in Columbus, Indiana.


Dan Mantz -

REC Foundation, CEO and Chairman of the Board

Dan Mantz is CEO and Chairman of the Board for the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation. He is responsible for the long-term strategy, structure, and fiscal health of the organization. He acts as a direct liaison between the REC Foundation and the Board. Prior to joining the REC Foundation, Dan was President of RackSolutions for four years and spent 19 years in the industrial robotics industry at FANUC Robotics.


Leanne Cushing -

Battlebots, Captain of Team Valkyrie

Leanne has been working in robotics for half of her life. She won the GM Industrial Design award her first year in FIRST robotics as a freshman and has been an engineer ever since. RIT alum, BattleBots captain for Valkyrie, founder of a smart home appliance startup, and one of Boston's top women in tech- as nominated in 2017 by Rev Boston. For the past decade she has been a design engineer and inventor in automotive, consumer products, servers, and robotics.


Maddie Thumma -

Battlebots, Team Huge

Maddie Thumma is an E-Commerce and Creative Content Manager currently working at Digital Retail Partners in Stratford, CT. A strong believer in creative thinking and professions, Maddie always encourages others to follow their passions. Outside of work, Maddie is the Graphic Designer and Manager for Team HUGE featured on Season 3 (soon to be 4) of Discovery’s BattleBots. Maddie is new to the robotics world (about 3 years), but she enjoys watching others follow their passions and will do anything to help her team achieve their goals.

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Mayor Gregory Ballard -

Former Mayor of City of Indianapolis

Mayor Gregory A. Ballard was elected the 48th Mayor of Indianapolis on November 6, 2007 and was re-elected to a second term on November 8, 2011.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Mayor Ballard graduated from Cathedral High School, and later received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Indiana University. After graduating, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and continued his education while serving in the Marines, becoming a distinguished graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and attaining a master’s degree in science from the Marine Corps University.

Ballard served time in the first Gulf War, with his military career culminating in his service with the United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where he retired in 2001 after 23 years of service and receiving numerous awards.

In 2012, The City of Indianapolis VEX Robotics Championship (IndyVRC) was created by then-Mayor Greg Ballard with the goal of providing an opportunity for all Indianapolis high school students to participate in a world class robotics event. Initially, the program served 38 high schools around the city, later adding both a middle school and an elementary school division to the comprehensive grant program. By 2016, the IndyVRC had awarded more than 180 grants, impacting nearly 3,000 students and raising nearly $170,000 annually to support the program and city competition. Today, Indiana has more VEX IQ teams than any other state and hosts the largest VEX Robotics State Championship in the nation.

Ballard and his wife Winnie have two children, a son and daughter, and still reside in Indianapolis.


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