Mentors

  • Posted on: 25 October 2017
  • By: Brian Buckley

Team 1676 is very grateful for the endless support of their mentors, parents, friends, and family. Proving the team saying, "Once a Pi-oneer, always a Pi-oneer, " our mentors are not only our teachers, but also parents of team members and alumni. We have mentors from the local business community who caught "FIRST Fever" and continue to mentor the team year-after-year.

 

Jack Teadore - Head Coach - Programming - Electrical


This is Jack’s first year as Co-Head Coach after being a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past eleven years. He received his Masters Degree from NYU Polytechnic University in Computer Science and brings with him a knowledge of electronics and programming. Jack has worked for several Internet companies designing and constructing communications systems and today has his own consulting company. In his role as the Control Systems Mentor, he teaches team members advanced methods for programming the robot along with the use of sensors to enable the robot to accomplish its tasks. He also was a co-coach for a 3-time New Jersey State Championship FIRST LEGO League Team and during that time the team won the FLL World Championship Research/Project Award. Jack teaches robotics at the Gifted Child Society in Allendale NJ.

 

James "Doc" Whitfield - Head Coach - Mechanical


This is Jim’s first year as Co-Head Coach after being a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past nine years. He has an undergraduate degree in Animal Science and Biology and his Master's Degree and Ph.D is in Anatomy and Pathology from the University of Kentucky. Jim teaches Biology, Anatomy & Physiology and Ethics. Prior to working at Pascack Hills High School, Jim had worked as a research associate and taught at several different universities including the University of California San Diego, Purdue University and Veteran's Affairs Hospital at the University of Utah. Jim has travelled extensively in Europe and South America. He is committed to education and currently serves as a science curriculum advisor to a group of private schools in India. Jim works as an all-around team mentor helping out wherever is needed, keeping team members organized and on task, as well as transporting the robot and equipment to and from competitions.

 

Kevin Killian - Mechanical


Kevin has been the Pascack Pi-oneers was the head coach from the 2008-2009 season to the 2016-2017 season, and serves as the Lead Mechanical Engineering mentor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University and a Master of Business Administration from New York University. Kevin worked as an engineer, engineering manager, and Director of Operations during his 20-year engineering career, which included producing space-flight hardware. During this time he was awarded seven U.S. Patents.

Kevin has been a math teacher at Pascack Hills High School since 2003. He became a mentor/coach of the Pi- oneers at the team’s inception in the 2004-2005 season. He instituted recruiting activities that have increased the team from a typical size of 40 members before he became Head Coach to 80-90 members since taking the helm. Additionally, Kevin led Team 1676 to significantly support the local middle school FIRST LEGO League Robotics competition, by instituting mentoring of the middle school teams plus hosting of the Bergen Brickfest N.J. FLL Qualifying Tournament.

 

Lisa Ruggieri - Management Outreach Design


Lisa has been a Coach and mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past fourteen years, beginning when her son was a founding team member. She founded the Pascack Pi-oneers Parent Association, serving as President and presently is Team Liaison. She is the Management, Outreach, and Design Lead Mentor, guiding the Pi-oneers to the many non-robot awards they have won. Lisa is liaison to the FIRST LEGO League teams the Pi-oneers mentor, and recruited those school districts to join FIRST and start their own teams. She co-coached one of those teams at their inception and also began two FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams in district elementary schools as well as in a local library. Lisa is also Lead Mentor for Team Fundraising, reaching out to parents, community and corporations.

 

Steve Mertz - Carpentry


Steve has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past eleven years. He is a National Service Delivery Manager with Xerox Corporation providing advanced networked business solutions to Large Enterprise Operations. Steve has a degree in Electronics Technology and is a Certified Technical Trainer. He mentors the Carpentry and the Mechanical Sub-Divisions. Steve’s daughter Nicole is an Alumnus of the team and he credits her with getting him involved with the Pi-oneers.

 

Joe Pantalone - Mechanical


Joe has mentored the Pi-oneers for eleven years with the Mechanical Sub-Division and he trains the novice mechanical group members during Pi-Tech Academy. He is a market manager for a composite materials distributor and is an expert in the field of composite materials, specializing in foam core and balsa core fiberglass-reinforced structures. Joe is the proud parent of a Pi-oneer alumnus and has continued on with the team after his daughter's graduation.

 

Adam Ostrowski - Mechanical


Adam has been a mentor for the Pascack Pi-oneers for seven years He received his BS in Industrial Arts from Kean University and  has been an industrial technology teacher for 23 years. The last six years have been at Pascack Hills and Pascack Valley. He has assisted the team with the Carpentry, Chassis and Mechanical Sub-Divisions.

 

Ilene Rein - Management Outreach Design


Mrs. Rein is a Mentor for the Management, Outreach & Design Division working with the marketing, animation, website and media teams for the past six years. Her early career was in Design and Marketing. She is currently a Senior Recruiter at Marketing & Sales Resources, Inc. which specializes in the Executive Search for Marketing and Sales professionals in the industrial products, B2B channels. Combining her marketing and recruiting backgrounds, she developed the business Pounding Pavement 101 which provides workshops, lectures and private consulting to young adults entering the workforce in job hunting, how to write a resume, digital presence, interview preparation all from the view of a Recruiter.  Mrs. Rein’s daughter and son are both team alumni.

 

Robert Nussbaum - Management Outreach Design


Rob has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for six years, working with the Management, Outreach & Division. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. Rob is an attorney who specializes in civil litigation and also works with a not-for-profit organization, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, by providing legal services to low-income debtors in the area of consumer law. Rob’s son was a four-year member of Team 1676 and, after his son graduated, Rob continued volunteering to assist the Pi-oneers with fundraising and writing grants to obtain corporate sponsorships.

 

DJ Solleder - Electrical


DJ has been a mentor with the Electrical Sub-Division for the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past six years. He received his bachelor's degree from NJIT in Mechanical Engineering and completed a four year electrical apprenticeship for the IBEW.  He has worked in the electrical construction field since 1984 and has been an electrical instructor since 1989. He is currently the senior instructor for IBEW local 164, specializing in electrical theory, alternate energy, and life safety. DJ has also served on the National Curriculum development committee for the electrical industry writing curriculum for fire safety training.

 

Carl Kiel - Mechanical


Carl has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for five years. He received his MBA from Long Island University, MSEE from New York University, and his BEE from CCNY.  Carl worked at BAE SYSTEMS as Senior Principle Systems Engineer and developed mobile communications systems for the digitized US ARMY, and navigation systems for bombers, fighters and missiles.  In his role as mentor, Carl has contributed to the Engineering Notebook, provides senior level input during robot requirements development, provides assessor inputs during robot design reviews and provides support to the Electronics Sub-Division.  

 

Colleen Guyre - Management Outreach Design


This is Colleen’s second year as a mentor for the Pascack Pi-oneers and her second year participating in FIRST. She mentored the CAD Sub-Division and the Management, Outreach, and Design Division, supervising the Design Binger. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University. In the past, Colleen has worked in the petroleum and petrochemical industries, designing refinery and chemical plant equipment. She is currently a reliability engineer from electrical distribution as a part of ORange & Rockland Utilities. As a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), she has participated in other STEM youth outreach programs and hopes that her participation with the Pi-oneers will inspire female students to pursue a career in engineering.

 

Michael Herman - ITRC


This is Mike’s second year mentoring the Pi-oneers. In addition to both an MBA and BSE from The Wharton School, he also holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from The University of Pennsylvania. He has always been a tinkerer, from building electric kits to model rockets, to his current hobby of restoring and rebuilding pinball machines. He loves to take things apart and hopefully reassemble them without too many leftover parts! This makes him well suited as a mentor for the Mechanical Division. His daughter Rebecca is currently a senior at Pascack HIlls High School.

 

Ben Williams - Mechanical


Ben is a two year mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers and an alumnus of FRC Team 900. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Ben works for CHA Consulting as an on-site consultant for Orange & Rockland Gas Engineering Research and Development Team. His time with Orange & Rockland Utilities has been concentrated with  different departments to improve safety of pipelines as well as improving traceability of underground assets.

 

Adrian Pickering - Mechanical


Adrian began his participation in FIRST at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, N.Y. where he was the captain of FIRST Team 28 for four years. He went on to graduate from Wooster Polytechnical Institute with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. During his time at WPI, he co-led the school’s Formula SAE Club. Adrian now works at the BMW facilities in Woodcliff Lake, and is excited to get back into FIRST to help his local team learn about the design of mechanical and electrical systems.

 

Rob Levy - ITRC


Rob graduated from the Pascack Pi-oneers in 2009 as Co-CEO of the team and and leader of the Information Technology Division. He has been a mentor of the Info-Tech Sub-Division for the past nine years. Mr. Levy is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute receiving a degree in Information Technology. He currently works as a Network Engineer for NBCUniversal and also volunteers for FIRST Robotics Competitions.

 

Danielle Fischer - Management Outreach Design


Danielle graduated from the Pascack Pi-oneers as Co-CEO of the team and leader of the Non-Tech Division in 2011. For the past six years, she has mentored the Non-Tech Awards Sub-Division. Danielle graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a BE in Engineering Management and a minor in Economics. She is currently pursuing her ME in Systems Engineering at Stevens. Danielle works at Becton Dickinson in the in the Enterprise Architecture team. During competition season, she volunteers as an FRC Judge at the Mid-Atlantic Robotics District Championship and the FIRST World Championship.

 

Ryan Hall - Carpentry


Ryan joined the Pascack Pi-oneers as a freshman for the 2010 season. He became leader of the Carpentry Sub-Division, and was the team Co-CEO during his junior and senior years. Ryan also created the team’s YouTube Channel. After graduating from high school, he continued to support the team as an alumni mentor with the  Carpentry Sub-Division. He is an alumnus of the University of Delaware, where he majored in Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Environmental Facilities Design and Construction and minored in both Civil Engineering and Sustainable Infrastructure. The 2018 season marks Ryan’s tenth year with the Pascack Pi-oneers and sixth year as a team mentor.

 

Ellen Drennan - Management Outreach Design


Ellen graduated from the Pascack Pi-oneers in 2015 as a four year team member. She served as Non-Technical Division Leader , Awards Sub-Division Leader,  Strategy Sub-Division member and Drive Team Coach. Ellen has mentored the Management, Outreach and Design Division for the past three years, providing feedback on outreach projects, proofreading awards essays, guiding the Strategy team in collaborations with other FRC teams, and advising the Finance Sub-Division on the business plan. She attends Stevens institute of Technology where she is pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Science, Technology and Society. Ellen has remained active in the FIRST community by becoming an FLL judge, an FTC robot inspector, and an FTC/FRC referee.

 

Jonathan Brizzolara - Mechanical


Jon has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past five years, working with the Mechanical Division and guiding team members on power tool usage. He attended York University and now is employed by a local contractor. Jon graduated from Team 1676 in 2011, completing his four year membership as the Mechanical Division Leader. He also volunteers as a FIRST Robotics Competition robot inspector for the FIRST Mid Atlantic Robotics events.

 

Andrea Bigos - Graphic Design


This is Andrea’s first year mentoring Team 1676. She graduated from the Pi-oneers as a four year member in 2017 as the leader of the Publications Sub-Division. She mentors the team with all graphic design needs, including the business plan. Currently, Andrea is a student at the University of Delaware studying Actuarial Science.

 

Ethan Hayon - Mechanical


Ethan graduated from Team 1676 in 2010 as Co-CEO and Mechanical Division Leader. He received his B.S. in Computer Science and M.E. in Computer Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. While at Stevens, Ethan worked on NASA research projects with the focus on spacecraft attitude determination. He also worked with the Department of Defense on the design and development of an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) tasked with the discovery of unexploded ordnance. He currently works in the telecommunications industry in NYC.   

 

Eric Kasper - Mechanical - Carpentry


This is Eric’s first year as a mentor after graduating from the team in 2013 and was a member of the Mechanical and Carpentry Sub-Divisions. He from Clarkson University with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering, and during that time was a mentor for FRC Team 229. Eric is employed by Schiavone Construction Company as a field engineer/estimator, and has achieved his E.I.T. designation.

 

Chris Killian - Mechanical


This is Chris’ second year as an alumni mentor. After graduating in 2009 as a Mechanical Division leader and a four year team member, he returned as a mentor. Chris earned a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University in 2014 as a FIRST Scholarship winner and is currently employed at Pratt Whitney as a Mechanical Design Engineering. A long time supporter of the Pascack Pi-oneers, Chris volunteers whenever he can.

 

Matt Lantry - Mechanical


Matt has been a mentor with the Pi-oneers for the past four years. He graduated from the team in 2014 as the Drive Team Operator and Mechanical Division member. He is attending the New Jersey Institute of Technology majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Beside mentoring the Pi-oneers, Matt has mentored FRC Team 4475, FTC Team 7311 and 7312. During his time with Team 1676 he mentored three of the FLL teams in the Pi-oneers’ district. Matt continues as a volunteer for FIRST as field reset at local competitions.

 

Marianna Maltsev - Carpentry - Safety


Marianna Maltsev was a 3 year member of the team and has been a mentor for the past 3 years with the Carpentry Sub-Division and the Safety Sub-Division. She is currently attending the Honors College at Bergen Community College to earn an Associates Degree in Engineering and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

 

Chris Mormile - Electrical - Mechanical


Chris is a long time participant of FIRST. Before joining the team he was an FLL team member for three years, mentored by the Pi-oneers. He joined Team 1676 freshman year as an Electrical Sub-Division member, then worked in the Minibot Sub-Division sophomore year.  Junior and senior years Chris worked with the Mechanical Sub-Division and became the Mechanical Division Leader as well as Human Player. He also created videos of on-board robot footage for competition matches for the team YouTube Channel. Chris will be graduating from the University of Hartford majoring in Electromechanical Engineering Technology  The 2017-18 season marks Chris’ 8th year with the Pascack Pi-oneers and 4th year as a team mentor.

 

Valerie Ruberto - Strategy - Mechanical


This is Val’s first year as an alumni mentor. She graduated from the team in 2017 as the Mechanical Sub-Division Co-Leader for the Climber and was a Strategy Sub-Division member. Val mentored one of the Pi-oneers’ FLL teams for three years and continues to do so now. She was a Dean’s List Semi-Finalist for the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District  her junior year. Val attends Tufts University and majors in Psychology.

 

Robert Sarakin - Mechanical​


Robert has been a mentor for the Pi-oneers for four years. He graduated from the team in 2014 as Mechanical Division Leader and was a Super Scout during competitions. Robert is attending Stevens Institute of Technology majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Robotics. As a Pi-oneer mentor he is advising the Mechanical Division and has also mentored FRC Team 4475. Robert continues his involvement in FIRST by volunteering as a Robot Inspector at competitions.

 

Justin Solleder - Photography - Videography


Justin was a four year team member of the Pi-oneers in the Management, Outreach & Design Division. He was the Media Sub-Division Leader his senior year, and has returned as a mentor after graduating in 2016. He also was an FLL team member mentored by Team 1676. Justin is currently enrolled in an accelerated masters program for General/Theoretical Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University where he also interns for the college’s public relations department as a photographer.  As a first year mentor he trains students in photography, videography, and photo editing software. His long-term goals include earning a doctorate in clinical psychology and working in a healthcare setting.

 

Michael Wietzke - Mechanical - Chassis


Michael graduated in 2009 from the Pi-oneers as a four year team member. He was a leader of the Chassis Sub-Division, and a member of the Pneumatics and Manipulator Sub-Divisions. Michael earned a B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. He was a Test Engineer at Aearco International and a Mechanical Engineer for Subsystem Technologies at Picatinny Arsenal. At this time Michael is a Mechanical Engineer for the US Army's RDECOM ARDEC (Research Development and Engineering Command- Armament Research Development and Engineering Center) at Picatinny Arsenal. This is his first year as a mentor for the team.