The mission of FIRST Team 1676, the Pascack Pi-oneers, combines the fundamental beliefs of FIRST with the desires of our team members to pursue and promote future careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) and to provide STEAM education for our community. Our goal is to operate as a cohesive team, competing with Gracious Professionalism under the guise of FIRST and developing our students’ abilities to conspire, create and develop as individuals and collectively as a team. We strive not only to build a successful robot, but also to master and exhibit the many life-skills necessary to succeed beyond FIRST Team 1676.
The Pascack Pi-oneers, located in Bergen County, New Jersey, are part of the Pascack Valley Regional High School District, which consists of four towns: Hillsdale, River Vale, Montvale and Woodcliff Lake. Students from Hillsdale and River Vale attend Pascack Valley High School, students from Montvale and Woodcliff Lake attend Pascack Hills High School. Team meetings are held at Pascack Hills and through the generous support of the PVRHSD Board of Education, members from Pascack Valley are transported to Pascack Hills by bus.
When founded in the 2004-2005 season, the Pi-oneers had 35 active members. After 12 years of development, the team consists of 75 members. Team growth includes over 55% of members being female, with 60% holding leadership positions. A member of the Pi-oneers is a dedicated, hard-working individual; the average member spends about thirty-five hours a week working during build season. Although all members work tirelessly during the intense Build Season, they believe it is the “hardest fun” a student can have.
Pi-Tech Academy was created by the Pascack Pi-oneers to train rookies for the upcoming Build Season and to reinforce the skills of returning members. Each Sub-Division is taught by a mentor and qualified veteran team members. The Academy focuses on educating members about the basic skills of their Sub-Division that will provide them with the knowledge necessary to make a worthwhile contribution to their team. Members also learn about all facets of Team 1676 and FIRST Robotics. Pi-Tech Academy focuses on quickly transforming new, inexperienced members into productive members who contribute many valuable assets, driving the team to success. The program commences in early November and continues for six weeks through December.
The Pascack Pi-oneers are supported by the community. The team owes much of their success to the coaches and mentors who work closely with the team throughout the course of the year. Teachers and staff in the schools, engineers from the community, business professionals and parents all work hard to ensure that FIRST Team 1676 flourishes and thrives. The Pascack Pi-oneer Parents Association (Pi-Parents) contributes greatly to the team by organizing nightly dinners during Build Season, host the Kickoff Lunch, coordinate carpooling, sell team spiritwear, organize the Team Picnic and keep friends & family informed about team activities.
In the fall of 2004, Team 1676 was established by Pascack Valley High School senior Matt Hayon, Philip Paspalas, a former Technology teacher at Pascack Hills High School, and Mercedes-Benz, the team’s first corporate sponsor. Their hard work and dedication to establish a new technology and engineering after-school program created the Pascack Pi-oneers.
The name of the team, The Pascack Pi-oneers, was developed in the team’s first season when a game clue referenced the mathematical symbol “π”. Since the mascots of Pascack Hills and Pascack Valley are a Cowboy and an Indian, the team created the name “Pascack Pi-oneers”. Choosing the team colors proved a difficult task because the team did not want to show favoritism to either high school by choosing the colors of one of the schools. A freshman team member solved this problem by designing a logo using the colors yellow and black, two colors which are not associated with either school.
The Pi-oneers have come a long way since their successful start in 2004 and winning the Rookie All-Star Award in their first year. In 2009, when Mr. Paspalas was promoted to Vice Principal and Athletic Director, he credited his success to his opportunity to demonstrate leadership while mentoring Team 1676.