Faculty & Mentors

Cathy Leather

Mrs. Leather started her career as an Art Director for both television and video post-production companies, working in Louisville, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. She later held product positions in technology companies that developed hardware and software for digital video applications. She promoted the release of Quicktime and ran a training seminar with Apple Computer at the AFI in Los Angeles. She was the Marketing Product Manager for the product that would eventually become Adobe Premiere. Later, Mrs. Leather worked for On Command Corporation as Director of Interactive Development and Production, and for Cisco Systems in the Emerging Technology Division.

Mrs. Leather teaches Animation, Graphic Design and Photography.

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Owen Leather

Owen Leather is a programming mentor who specializes in autonomous robot functionality, and he is currently co-teaching a curriculum with Brian Loos for the programming department on advanced control systems for autonomous robotics. He also helps with mentoring the mechanical and electrical departments when needed. Owen was a member of the team from 2018-2021, and this is his first year as a mentor. He currently attends West Valley College, with plans to transfer to a 4 year university next year to study Computer Science. Owen is also working at a company called "iMetalx" as a software intern working on aerial drones.

Stephanie Federwisch

Stephanie graduated from Mitty in 2007. Afterwards, she graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction. During her undergrad, she worked on EteRNA an online game that crowdsources RNA research to help advance medical science. She now works at Google and attends all of TKO's meetings and provides insight as a dedicated programming mentor.

Chris Loos

Mr. Loos currently works for KLA, a company that develops industry-leading equipment to enable innovation in the electronics industry. Recently, Mr. Loos has graduated from UC Davis, where he was exposed to the engineering design process. While he was at Davis, Chris worked with CNC machine and product design. He is proficient in CAD, CAM, CNC operation, fabrication, assembly, as well as a host of other abilities that greatly benefit TKO.

Mercedes Thorne

Ms. Mercedes started her career in FIRST as a founding member and team captain of FRC 4186 - The Alameda Aztechs from 2011-2014. Since 2014, she has been The Aztech’s primary electrical and pneumatics mentor in addition to advising on mechanical design and fabrication. While serving as an alumni mentor, she also ran the makerspace and a 4th-12th grade robotics program at Wood Middle School in Alameda, where she ran 1 FTC team and 10 FLL teams for the school, in addition to heading up the Alameda city-wide Lego League. Currently, Ms. Mercedes serves as one of two main mechanical mentors for TKO and the team’s primary pneumatics mentor. Her mechanical design and fabrication expertise lies in CNC machining and 3D printing. In addition to being a staff mentor and volunteer robot inspector for FIRST, Ms. Mercedes is a board member for the non-profit organization Island City Robotics, and works as an electro-mechanical technician for BriteLab, a contract engineering company serving the robotics and semiconductor industries.

Dr. Diane Hart

Currently, Dr. Hart’s main role is to supervise the robotics team meetings. She has also taken over the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiative and is the point person for DEI training and any DEI-related concerns within the team. Dr. Hart reviews and approves communications with the parents of team members, and advises students on physics-related questions, since physics is her area of expertise. Dr. Hart has been teaching at Mitty for two years, and she currently teaches AP Calculus BC and AP Physics C Mechanics at Mitty. She has a PhD from UC Berkeley in Environmental Engineering, and her PhD research focused on numerical modeling of greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. When she finished her PhD, Dr. Hart taught in the math department at Santa Clara University for three years before coming to teach at Mitty.

Ashley Herring-Loos

From 2016 to 2021, Ms. Loos has been a mentor to two other teams, 4255 Robodores and 7413 Plus Ultra. She was pit mentor, robot design reviewer, and media supervisor to them—focusing on pit design and organization, as well as photography and social media. Currently, Ms. Loos supervises the team’s social media and robot design reviews. While in her undergraduate, she initially studied Applied Physics and Applied Math, but she changed her concentration at the last moment to Mathematics Education in favor of going into teaching, rather than research.

Brian Loos

Brian Loos is a returning alumni mentor for both the programming and the mechanical departments. He graduated from Mitty in 2016 and received a Bachelors in Mathematics and his Masters in Scientific Computing and Applied Mathematics from UCSC last winter. For his Masters, he focused on dynamics and theoretical control systems which is how he mentors the robotics team now. During college, he worked several odd jobs, but the one most relevant to robotics was working as an Automotive Technician. That experience combined with working in the mechanical department during his time at Mitty will hopefully allow Loos to have valuable insights to offer the team. Currently, he works in the field of artificial intelligence and deep learning, where he designs neural architectures for performing video analysis, synthesis, and generation.