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Every teacher loves to hear how past students are doing since graduation and it can be especially rewarding to hear that a special teacher has made an impact on the career trajectory and happiness of a student.

Recently, Mr. Quah, Science & Arts Faculty, received correspondence from Ricky Rothberg, ’16, that truly illustrates how a teacher can inspire and shape a child’s future.

After graduating from Tampa Prep, Ricky attended the University of Central Florida and received his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering.  He credits Mr. Quah’s classes and his experience with the Tampa Prep robotics team as major contributing factors to inspire him to pursue an engineering degree.

“Ricky was an enthusiastic student in STEM and his favorite class, if I recall correctly, was the Aerospace Engineering class where there were 8 different hands-on projects,” said KK Quah. “He was particularly fond of the wooden glider project which was to design and construct a wooden glider that could go a minimum of 45 feet. Of course, he easily made the minimum and I believe his glider went at least 60 feet.

As a teacher, it is always a pleasure to get these kinds of emails or communication from students.  I always like to hear where they have been and what they are doing.  It does make me feel good to be able to be a small part of their school lives and to have an impact on them.”

While attending UCF, Ricky had the opportunity to participate in a branch of the Society of Automotive Engineers, helping to build an off-road buggy to compete in endurance races against other schools and again, credits his time working with robotics that effectively prepared him for this experience.

Upon graduation from UCF, Ricky’s dream career, to work with cars and automotive engineering, was realized as he is now an Associate Race Program Engineer with Firestone Racing.  He is one of 8 engineers who work on a race team out of Akron, Ohio, providing tires to the IndyCar and Indy Lights racing series.  He currently travels the country, having influence on the tires, throughout their lifecycle.

Ricky closed his letter to Mr. Quah with this:  “Even after earning my degree I never would have imagined that I would end up with a career as cool as this! I’m so happy that things were able to work out this way, and so much of that started with the foundations of your classes and lessons.

Thank you so much for everything you do as a teacher and instructor. You were absolutely the main reason that my engineering career was able to be where it is today!

I miss being in your classroom, but please know that you were the best teacher I ever had.”