Mentors and Coaches are individuals from all backgrounds and disciplines who work with students to share their knowledge and guide them through the season. Many Mentors contribute on a weekly basis during competition season, or support the team with subject matter expertise on an as needed basis. Teams may have additional or more specialized roles or a combination of roles as needed. In addition, Mentors help to foster the idea of Gracious Professionalism® and have the students do as much of the work as possible.
– Mentor and Coach Roles,


Tom Karns is our head mentor and coach, founding the team in 2012. Mr. Karns recently retired as a PLTW Teacher at Worthington Kilbourne High School. He owns and operates his own lawn and landscaping service when he’s not busy with robotics. He has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology from Salem College in West Virginia and a master’s degree in Teaching from Ashland University. In his free time, he enjoys fishing and woodworking.


Bill Kautz is our lead fabrication mentor. He has been with the team since 2014, graciously devoting his time and knowledge to our students and program. He is known as our “Bumper Extraordinaire”. Bill received his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology from Valley City State University in North Dakota. He is now retired, but he used to be an industrial arts teacher in the Columbus City School District. In his free time, he enjoys woodworking, long walks on the beach, and watching football.


Eric Francis is our lead programming mentor. He has been with the team since 2013 when his son joined the team. Without him, our autonomous programs would not be nearly as successful. He is currently employed at L3 Technologies and Aviation Products as a Senior Staff Engineer. Eric devotes much of his time after work to our program and we are extremely grateful for his dedication and expertise. In his free time, he enjoys flying planes.

ZupferAndy Zupfer is our business planning, scout team, and Chairman’s award mentor. Andy has been with the team since 2019.   Outside of FIRST, Andy leads the Solution Delivery Practice at Andy received his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) from The University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Zupfer is also an Assistant Scoutmaster as well as the Head Coach for the (Thomas) Worthington Middle School baseball team.    

Additional Mentors 

  • James Johnson – Fabrication & Mechanical
  • Jared Weisgerber – Robot Design
  • Mark Fong – Vision
  • Phillip White – Programming & Electrical
  • Akash Jammu – Safety & CNC Programmer

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