Mentors

Shawn Shefte

Hi, I am Shawn Shefte, and I have been the Team President for all 10 years. I went to college at Illinois State University and I currently work in/at SWIR Vision Systems. I helped start the team because my kids told me to. I still mentor because FIRST gives kids things they don't learn in school. I help the Electronics Team and the Mentors, and I am so excited for this season! Go Firewall!

Chris Fulmer

I'm Chris Fulmer. I've been a mentor for Team Firewall since the team was started in 2014. I earned a degree in Applied Math & Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon, developed software for 13 years at Nortel and then went to law school at Duke. I'm now a practicing attorney with Morningstar Law Group in Raleigh where I focus on technology and software law.


Keith Portnoy

Hi, I am  Keith Portnoy, and I have been a mentor for 9 years. I received an Electrical Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and a Masters of Science in Computer Information Systems from Georgia State University. I currently work at Waveguide LLC where I am a Principal in the Raleigh, NC office. I joined the team because my older son asked if I could help out during the team's second year. I have had two students on the team as they progressed through high school. I came back this year because it is truly rewarding to help the students learn about STEM and other life skills and to witness reactions when something goes as planned. I can't wait to see what we can do this season. Go Firewall!!


Terry Phillips

Hi, I am Terry Phillips, and I have been a mentor for 8 years. I went to college at NC State University graduating with a BS in Computer Science. I currently work at Eaton in Raleigh. I joined the team because I work in STEM and my oldest son David joined Firewall his freshman year. I mentor the programming team, and I am so excited for this season! Go Firewall!

Wendy Darby

Hi, I am Wendy Darby, and I have been a robotics mentor for 2 years. I went to the Integrated Science and Technology college at James Madison University and I currently work at Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions. I joined the team because purple has been my spirit color through high school and college, so Firewall was a perfect fit!! Joking aside, I was impressed with how dedicated my daughter and her friends were to the team and I was amazed at what the students were doing at competition. I couldn’t stop asking questions about how they programmed for the autonomous period of the competition. I was also impressed with how First Robotics teaches soft-skills like networking, professional cooperation and teamwork, communication, and presentation skills. First Robotics not only teaches engineering and sciences, but invaluable life skills and amazing memories. I help with the Programming, Vision, and Media team(s), and I am very excited for this season! I can’t wait to see what problems the team will face and overcome. It is fun to see them work through the innovation process .

Aiden Portnoy

Hi, I am Aiden Portnoy, and I am a third year mentor. I went to college at NC State and graduated this past spring. I joined the team as a student back in 2016 and participated in first for all 4 years of high school. I currently help the scouting and build teams, and I am so excited for this season! Go Firewall!

Landon Stillitano

Hello, my name is Landon. I’ve been a mentor for Firewall for the past three years. I graduated from NC State in 2023 with a degree in Sustainable Materials and Technology. I now work as a designer for a kiosk company. 

Tom Barbieri

Hi, I’m Tom Barbieri, and this is my first year as a mentor. I work at Wolfspeed, and I currently work in marketing for material engineering. I joined the team to support my daughter Talia and help teach new engineers, and I help the build and scouting teams. I look forward to a great season and I can’t wait to compete!

Larry Swindell

Hi, I'm Larry Swindell, and I'm a rookie mentor.  I have a B.S. in Electronic Engineering Technology.  I've worked 17 years in computer product development, 9 years programming in network provisioning systems, and the last 15 years as a web application developer for the North Carolina Department of Insurance. I'm looking forward to helping wherever I'm needed. This environment reminds me of the days when I worked on new computer systems product development for different startup companies.  The students will get very valuable experience that they do not get at school. Go Firewall !!

Wendy Armstrong

Hi!  I’m Wendy Armstrong, and though this is my first year as a mentor, I’ve been cheering on Team Firewall since 2022, when they introduced me to the wonderful world of FIRST Robotics.  I work at WHI Solutions, an eBay company.  I am also the lead mentor for Firewall’s FTC team, EmberShard.  I work a bit with outreach to other teams and the community. Go Firewall!! 

Heidi Barufkin

Hi, my name is Heidi Barufkin, and I have been helping mentor the Firewalls team for a few months. I went to college at the University of Indianapolis for physical therapy. I am currently a business, owner here in Raleigh with husband Phill, Fish Window Cleaning. I joined the team because of my two sons Brodie and Braden who wanted to join. I am currently on the bumper team, and hope to assist in any way I can. I am use to fixing people not robots. I’m very excited for the whole team, Go Firewall! 

Shane Strickland

Hi, I am Shane Strickland and this is my first year as a mentor. I graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Throughout my career I have worked on projects in a variety of engineering disciplines and joined Firewall to share my experience with the next generation of engineers. I help both build and electrical teams and can't wait to see our robot compete in the upcoming competitions.