Mr. Ali leaves ASL after six years to start FIRST Robotics UK

Photo by Gigi Patmore

From directing the After School Program, to managing high school and middle school robotics, to spending time out on recess duty, to teaching electives, Mr. Muktar Ali used to be glimpsed working and interacting with students all over the ASL campus. However, his last day at ASL was March 29, right before students were released for spring break.

Mr. Ali made the decision to leave because of a new job offer he received as Chief Operating Officer of First Robotics UK. His position is to oversee and run the First Tech Challenge robotics program that is being brought over from the United States to the UK. The FIRST Tech Challenge is part of an organization that ASL itself participates in, as the Lower School does Junior FIRST Lego League, the Middle School does FIRST Lego League, and the High School does First Robotics Competition. Although the program he is going to work for is affiliated with these, it is not in the United Kingdom yet. His position will be to inform other schools in the UK about it and try to get them to get involved.

The reason he is leaving in the middle of the school year is because his company would like to aim to start the program for the next academic British school year. Since British schools conclude for the summer in July, Mr. Ali left after spring break so he can have a full three month term to go and find other schools to engage in FIRST Tech Challenge for the 2018-2019 school year.

“I am most looking forward to providing the robotics opportunity to as many students as possible, especially students who go to just a normal public school. We are very fortunate here at ASL where nearly all of our students have access to do robotics, and it’s not quite the same in the British school system,” Mr. Ali said. “I was lucky enough to benefit from robotics when I went to school at Harris Academy, and it changed my life, so I want to be able to give that same opportunity to students at public schools,” he said.

Mr. Ali officially joined ASL’s community in August 2012, where he started out as the After School Programs assistant, but that November he was given the task of taking over the entire thing. As robotics at ASL expanded, so did his job responsibilities in that area. When asked how he was involved in the First Lego League tournament over the years, Ms. Shivik, sixth grade math teacher and director of the FLL tournament said, “The better question is how wasn’t he involved?”

Mr. Ali speaks to the Griffin Sprog during the UK and Ireland Championships on February 24. Mr. Ali has been a part of the robotics program here at ASL for a long time (photo courtesy Mr. Goff).

According to Mr. Ali, the best part of his job was collaborating with students, and how amazing it was to see former middle school students progress up through into high school robotics. “I’ve loved working with all the staff in the building, and I’m going to miss working with my colleagues a lot. I just want to say thank you, thank you to the students, thank you to the faculty. It’s been an amazing six and a half years,” he said.

Not only has Mr. Ali done a lot for the school, but he has influenced many ASL students and faculty. “He did so many things in this school, and he was involved in so much stuff that you don’t even realize all the ways you depend on him,” said Mr. Chris Goff, eighth grade science teacher and mentor for middle and high school robotics teams.

“He was willing to help anyone with anything that they needed help with,” said Ms. Francesca Marr, current director of the After School Program.

ASL is currently in search of a replacement for Mr. Ali, and plan to have hired one by next year. For now, Ms. Marr has taken over all of his responsibilities as ASP director, but she too will be departing at the end of the year. Therefore, there will need to be two new staff members to take over from them. “We really valued everything that Mr. Ali brought to this school and he will be missed, but we’re confident that our next steps will be positive as well. He has big shoes to fill, but we wish him the very best,” said Mr. Pete Lutkoski, middle school principal.

Described as hard working and efficient by Mr. Lutkoski, Mr. Ali impacted many of those around him and will continue to do so in his future endeavors.

About Camilla Fritzinger ('22)

News Editor (2017-18)

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