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Smithtown Resident Larry Toonkel Appointed by SBPLI as FIRST® Robotics Competition Co-Director

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Longtime Volunteer and Former Northrop Grumman Employee Joins David Johnson and Thomas Rosati at the Helm

School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI) is pleased to appoint Smithtown resident Larry Toonkel as FIRST® Robotics Competition Co-Director. A longtime member of the program’s development council, Toonkel replaces former Co-Director Debra Winter, who resigned after the 2016-2017 season. Toonkel will call upon his experience in the fields of science and technology to work with current Co-Directors, David Johnson and Thomas Rosati, to assist with the day-to-day planning and management of the program and its associated events.
In 2015, after more than 30 years at Northrop Grumman, where he held various managerial and supervisory positions related to project management, software engineering and process engineering, Mr. Toonkel retired and dedicated himself to SBPLI and FIRST® Long Island.  His involvement with SBPLI is a direct result of a growing interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives, which he initially developed during his career with Northrop Grumman. In addition to serving as a member of the FIRST® Robotics Competition Development Council, Mr. Toonkel has also volunteered as a judge at the Long Island Regional for the past two years.

Prior to working at Northrop Grumman, Mr. Toonkel also worked for the Atomic Energy Commission, the Department of Energy, and Graphic Scanning a small technology company involved in the design and development of cell phone networks.
“We are very excited to have Larry step up into his new leadership position,” says SBPLI Executive Director Bertram Dittmar. “His dedication to the organization, in-depth knowledge of the FIRST® Robotics Competition and passion for FIRST® Robotics make him the perfect person to bring SBPLI and FIRST® Long Island into the future.”
One of Mr. Toonkel’s first tasks as Co-Director will be to help plan the 2018 FIRST® Robotics Long Island Regional Competition, which brings together approximately 50 Long Island teams, as well as visiting teams from around the country and the world. Mr. Toonkel will call on his experience as FIRST® Robotics Competition judge and Development Council member to plan the events, as well as the associated Kick-Off.
“I am honored to be appointed as the newest FIRST® Robotics Competition Co-Director,” says Mr. Toonkel. “I am very excited to have an even more active role in planning the upcoming Long Island Regional. I look forward to working alongside my good friends Dave [Johnson] and Thom [Rosati] and to learning from their experiences in the role.”
For more information on SBPLI or FIRST® Long Island, please visit or call (631)627-8400. 


About School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc.
School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI) is a fully volunteer-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1984 by Fred Breithut with the goal of developing partnerships between local high schools and businesses. His goal was to provide students with practical experience and curriculum development, while helping the business community develop its future workforce, which resulted in the formation of over 100 partnerships. In 1999, SBPLI brought the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) to Long Island, which featured just eight FIRST Robotics Competition high school teams. Since then, the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition has grown to over 50 teams competing each year. SBPLI also hosts Long Island’s annual FIRST LEGO League Qualifying and Championship Tournaments and the FIRST LEGO League Junior Expos, in which over 2,000 elementary and middle school students from Nassau and Suffolk Counties take part each year. In 2016, SBPLI added the FIRST Tech Challenge to its roster of programs. For more information about the programs, or to learn how to become a sponsor, visit

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