Coral Park alumnus mentors students in Miami Electrathon race
June 19, 2024
High school students race electric powered go-karts on a racetrack at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

MIAMI, Fla. - The yellow and blue decked out halls of Miami Coral Park Senior High School were just as 36-year-old Robert Mantilla remembered them. Memories came rushing back with each step he took through his alma mater.  

He paused, reflecting on the contrast between his first day as a nervous freshman and the bittersweet emotions he felt his last day as a senior. The halls felt so long to him back then, but they didn’t come close to the vast unknown of his future.  

“If only I would’ve known then what I know now,” Mantilla paused and laughed. “I wouldn't have been biting my nails so much.” 

Now, almost half a lifetime later, he walked with a sense of purpose and pride into Mr. Delahoz’s classroom where robotics and other STEM projects are brought to life.  

Here, Mantilla not only helps teach students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and building electric powered go-karts as part of Electrathon America, but to also mentor them ahead of one of the biggest transitions of their lives.  

“I would’ve absolutely loved a program like this when I was in school,” Mantilla said.When you look at all the new tools that are at their disposal nowadays, it has really inspired me to have a lot of faith in the future generations, especially those exploring careers in STEM fields.” 

Despite his fears, Mantilla became the first in his Cuban-American family to graduate from college, thanks to a hard-earned, full-ride scholarship to study mechanical engineering at the University of Florida. The job he landed at Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) out of college not only brought him back to his family but allowed him to support students during their own challenging journeys. 

Earlier in the school year, FPL donated EV go-kart building kits to schools across the state, including South Dade Senior High and Miami Lakes Educational Center. This initiative is being spearheaded through the company’s FPL EVolution® charging solutions education and outreach program, which Mantilla is a part of. 

This was the first year Coral Park students spent the school year channeling their creativity by building electric powered karts and ending in a competitive race day at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

Race Day 

The track at the Homestead-Miami Speedway was slick from on and off rain, but that couldn’t put the brakes on the more than a hundred students putting their EV go karts to the test. With tools in hand, students put the finishing touches on their karts before selecting a driver to take the wheel. 

“This is my first time ever doing something like this,” said Enrique Tamayo, as he put on his helmet, gloves and headset to communicate with his Coral Park team on the track. 

For Tamayo and many other seniors here today, this is truly a race against time as this is the final project between high school and beyond. Soon, he plans to attend Florida Atlantic University to study mechanical engineering before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to specialize in motor sports. 

But in this moment, he was focused on racing to victory. Speed isn't the primary goal, but rather the efficiency of traveling the longest distance on a single charge. 

Spectators lined up in anticipation of the big countdown. In 3...2...1, nearly a dozen cars took off with a subtle hum, speeding down the raceway. 

“When people told me high school would be the best four years of life and would fly fast, at first I didn’t believe them,” Tamayo said, full of race day adrenaline. “It’s been emotional.” 

Now on the other side of the finish line, his 16 laps around the track quickly turned into one of his most cherished high school memories. Tamayo and his team were proud to have placed fifth in the high school division. 

Mantilla smiled ear to ear as he congratulated the students, seeing reflections of his younger self in their eager faces. Here, he can’t help but feel fulfilled knowing he is helping power the workforce of tomorrow, one go-kart at a time. 

Although there might be some uncertainties that they face right now in their lives, if they stay true to their path and continue to put forth their best efforts, all their dreams can come true too,” Matilla said. 

For those interested in learning more about FPL’s Electrathon program, visit