Frank Langro and Jeff Stern Honored as the 2019 FIRST® Long Island Volunteers of the Year

Awards Presented by the Organization during a Volunteer VIP Reception following the 20th Annual SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition
Volunteers of the Year

Jeff Stern (left), Volunteer and Board Member, FIRST Long Island and Frank Langro (right), Volunteer and Board Member, FIRST Long Island, and Member, FIRST Robotics Competition Development Council, pose with their Volunteer of the Year awards during the FIRST Long Island Volunteer VIP Reception on March 29.

School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI), also known as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Long Island, presented Frank Langro and Jeff Stern each with the “Volunteer of the Year” Award during the 2019 SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition. A fully volunteer-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, SBPLI relies on the dedication and support of its members year-round. As such, the organization takes the time each year to recognize the countless hours and efforts of devoted volunteers. Each award was presented at the Volunteer VIP Reception held at Hofstra University on March 29.

Involved with the organization for over a decade, Frank Langro plays an integral role in the planning and execution of several FIRST Long Island events. His background as Director of Product Market Management for the Pneumatic Automation Products at Festo Corporation provides tremendous insight for the coordination efforts of SBPLI’s events and mission.

Mr. Langro’s involvement with FIRST Long Island started when he assisted in arranging the donations of Festo’s solenoid valves to be placed in the FIRST Robotics Competition teams’ kits of parts. Around that time, he also started judging at the Long Island Regional. He has judged almost every year since and continued the tradition at this year’s Regionals.

Mr. Langro also serves on the FIRST Robotics Competition Development Council, where he helps organize the regional event and several events hosted at Festo to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. In the summer of 2018, Mr. Langro joined the FIRST Long Island Board of Directors, continuing to achieve the mission of FIRST Long Island.

Mr. Langro earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Hofstra University. He has represented Festo in multiple areas in support of the advancement of automation. He has participated in the development of national and global standards as a member of the National Fluid Power Association and has represented Festo as an Industrial Advisory Board Member for the CCEFP (Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power), a partnership between industry and several leading universities to steer the direction of fluid power research. Mr. Langro holds four patents in the area of fluid power. 

Affectionately known as the “Chicken Judge,” Jeff Stern has been volunteering for FIRST Long Island for almost 15 years. While judging FIRST LEGO League events for elementary and middle school students, he always wears the chicken hat given to him by a FIRST LEGO League team many years ago.

Mr. Stern has been a practicing attorney on Long Island for over 40 years. Currently a solo practitioner (after a 20-year partnership in Stern and Altimari), Mr. Stern has built a thriving law practice that includes real estate transactions on Long Island and New York City, business transactions, litigation and estate planning.

Mr. Stern’s involvement with FIRST Long Island started early on. He attended the inaugural SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in 2000 with his home team, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 353, “the POBots.” He is thrilled to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of this event with his "FIRST family” of friends.

In 2014, Mr. Stern joined the FIRST Long Island Board, and actively pursues sponsors and volunteers for FIRST Long Island all year long. He believes strongly in “giving back” to the community, and his networking skills and energy have generated a great deal of growth for the organization. In 2014, Jeff and his wife Stephanie were officially and deservedly honored at the SBPLI Golf Outing for their tremendous passion and contributions to FIRST Long Island and the FIRST programs. Stephanie has also been involved with FIRST robotics since 2000 and is currently the Director of the FIRST LEGO League program on Long Island.

Mr. Stern has observed firsthand the impact FIRST has on students. Three of his four children have participated in FIRST and have earned college degrees in Engineering. In addition, he has seen many elementary and middle school students in FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League mature and move on to other FIRST programs, and, eventually, college. Some of the students are now practicing engineers. He has maintained his relationships with many of the students he has met while volunteering for FIRST Long Island.  

“On behalf of everyone at FIRST Long Island, we want to extend a big round of congratulations to Frank [Langro] and Jeff [Stern], two incredibly dedicated FIRST Long Island volunteers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with for many years,” says Bertram Dittmar, Executive Director, FIRST Long Island. “Frank and Jeff are the embodiment of what it means to be dedicated to a cause and making a difference! We thank them both for everything they do to ensure our students have a valuable STEM experience.”

For more information on SBPLI or the FIRST Long Island programs, please visit

See all photos from the VIP Reception here

Additional Photos: 

Volunteers of the Year 2
Volunteers of the Year 3