• 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.


Kevin Killian - Head Coach - Mechanical

Kevin has been the Pascack Pi-oneers head coach since the 2008-2009 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 19-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 mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past 13 years, beginning when her son was a founding team member. She founded the Pascack Pi-oneers Parent Association, serving as President and currently is Team Liaison. She is the Non-Technical/Team Outreach 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.


Jack Teadore - Programming - Electrical

Jack has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past 13 years. He received his Masters Degree from NYU Polytechnic University in Computer Science and a graduate certificate in Computer Security from Stevens Institute of Technology. He 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 co- coaches 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 has also previously taught robotics at the Gifted Child Society in Allendale New Jersey.


Steve Mertz - Carpentry

Steve has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past nine 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 Mechanical Sub teams. Steve’s daughter Nicole is an Alumni 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 nine 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.


James "Doc" Whitfield - Mechanical

Jim has been a mentor with the Pascack Pioneers for the past seven years. He has an undergraduate degree in Animal Science and Biology. 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 coming to 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 works as an all around team mentor helping out wherever is needed and helping to keep kids organized and on task as well as transporting the robot and equipment to and from competitions. 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.


Ilene Rein - Management Outreach Design

Mrs. Rein is a Mentor for the Non-Tech Division working with the marketing, animation, web site and media teams for the past six years. She is also Co-President of the Pascack Pi-oneer Parents Association. 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 son is an alumnus of the Pi-oneers and her daugher is a senior on the team.


Adam Ostrowski - Mechanical

Adam has been a mentor for the Pascack Pi-oneers for five years He received his BS in Industrial Arts from Kean University and has been an industrial technology teacher for 22 years. The last five years have been at Pascack Hills and Pascack Valley. He has assisted the team with the Carpentry, Chassis and Mechanical Sub-Divisions.


Robert Nussbaum - Management Outreach Design

Rob is a mentor for the team's Non-Tech Sub-Division. This is his 4th year as a mentor for the Pi-oneers. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, earned a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law, and is an attorney who specializes in civil litigation. Rob’s son was a four-year member of Team 1676 and, after his son graduated in 2014, Rob continued volunteering to assist the Pi-oneers with fundraising and writing grants to obtain corporate sponsorships. In addition to his time with the Pi-oneers, Rob 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.


DJ Solleder - Electrical

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


Frances Capodicasa - Safety

Frances has been a mentor of the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past four years, working with the Awards Sub-Division. She was a former Co-president and serves as an advisor to the Pascack Pi-oneers Parents Association. She received her undergraduate Degree from Glassboro State University in Communications with specialization in Journalism and concentration in Creative Writing and Graphic Design. In the years following she returned to school and obtained not only her RN degree but also national certification as a Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse. Currently employed by Select Specialty Hospital, she heads the Wound Care Department. Mrs. Capodicasa’s daughter graduated in 2016.


Carl Kiel - Mechanical

Carl has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for three years. He received his MBA from LIU, MSEE from NYU, 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 team.


Tom Gilbert - Mechanical

Tom has been a mentor for the Mechanical Division for the past five years to support both his grandsons as they became Pi-oneer members. After graduating from California State Polytechnic College with a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering, he gained invaluable experience working as an engineer. Tom worked for Douglas Aircraft, involved in the development of the A3D carrier based strategic bomber for the US Navy; at Aerospace Corporation, in the Athena test rocket launch from Moab , Utah into White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. He also worked at General Dynamics’ Corporation on the development of the Atlas Intercontential Missile used in space exploration, at Grumman Aerospace on the development of the LEM (Apollo Lunar Excursion Module), and at Lesona-Moos Electronics on the development of “penetration aids” for the US Navy Poseidon and Polaris submarine based intermediate range missiles. Before he retired Tom was employed by Maxon Electronics, working on various warfare systems, Riverside Corporation working on various high security classified systems for the Navy and Air Force and lastly was employed by the New York MTA to construct and rebuild the maintenance and overhaul shops for the NYC subway system.


Colleen Guyre - Management Outreach Design

This is Colleen’s first year as a mentor for the Pascack Pi-oneers and her first year participating in FIRST. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University. In the past, she worked in the petroleum and petrochemical industries, designing refinery and chemical plant equipment. Colleen is currently a reliability engineer for electrical distribution as part of O&R 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 this team will inspire female students to pursue a career in engineering.


Michael Herman - ITRC

This is Mike’s first year mentoring the Pi-oneers. In addition to both an MBA and BSE from The Wharton School, he also holds a Bachelors degree 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 for the Mechanical Division. Mike’s daughter Rebecca is a student at Pascack Hills High School but not on the robotics team. Becoming a mentor was her gift to him.


Rob Levy - ITRC

Mr. Levy graduated as a Co-CEO of the team and picked up where he left off, now as mentor of the Info-Tech Sub-Division for the past three years. He also volunteers for FIRST Robotics Competitions. Mr. Levy is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Rob graduated from the Pascack Pi-oneers as Co-CEO of the team and leader of the Information Technology Division in 2009. For the past six years, he has mentored the ITRC Division. Rob earned a degree in Information Technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2013. He currently works as a Network Engineer for NBCUniversal.


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 five years, she has mentored the Non-Tech Awards Sub-Division. Danielle graduated Stevens Institute of Technology with a BE in Engineering Management and is currently finishing her ME in Systems Engineering. Danielle works at Becton Dickinson (BD) as an IT Leadership Associate. Her work includes managing global projects within IT and architecting new solutions for the organization. During competition season, she volunteers as an FRC Judge at the Mid-Atlantic Region Championship and the FIRST World Championship.


Ryan Hall - Carpentry

Ryan joined the Pascack Pi-oneers as a freshman for the 2010 season. His sophomore year, 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 and the Pi-oneer Alumni Network. After graduating from high school, he continued to support the team as an alumni mentor with the Carpentry Sub-Division. He is currently a senior at the University of Delaware, majoring in Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Environmental Facilities Design and Construction and minoring in both Civil Engineering. The 2017 season marks Ryan’s 8th year with the Pascack Pi-oneers and 4th year as a team mentor.


Ellen Drennan - Management Outreach Design

Ellen graduated from Team 1676 in 2015 after serving as leader of the Non-Technical Division, Awards Sub-Division, and Strategy Sub-Division and drive team coach. She is attending Stevens Institute of Technology, where she is pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Science, Technology, and Society. She mentors the Non-Technical Division as well as the Strategy Sub-Division, imparting knowledge gained from her four-year tenure on the team to current Pi-oneers. Her contributions as a mentor include providing feedback on outreach projects, proofreading awards essays, guiding the Finance Sub-Division on the business plan, and advising the Strategy Sub-Division. Since graduating from high school, Ellen has remained active in the FIRST community as an FLL judge, an FTC robot inspector, and an FTC/FRC referee.


Jenna Malley - Management Outreach Design

Jenna has been a participant in FIRST for 7 years. She is an alumnus of the Pascack Pi-oneers where she was the Non-Tech Leader. Jenna mentors the Pi-oneers and is also a mentor for FIRST Robotics Competition Team 125. She is also a chairperson for her local FIRST LEGO League qualifying tournament and is a chairperson for the local FRC District competition. Jenna is attending Northeastern University working toward her BS in Chemistry.


Jonathan Brizzolara - Mechanical

Jon has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past 4 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.


Jacob Rein - ITRC

Jacob joined the Pi-oneers as a freshman in 2010, after participating on George White Middle School FIRST Lego League team for 3 years. He started on Pi-oneers on the Mechanical Sub-Division and later migrated to Programming. He subsequently became the Founder of the App Sub-Division in his Senior year releasing FRC Playmaker, Lily the Learner and MyGPS (Generate My Project Schedule) to the GooglePlay market. He returns from college on vacations and weekends as an Alumni Mentor to support the team and to teach Android App programming. Jacob received a FIRST Scholarship to Pace University where he studies Computer Science. He remains a part of the FIRST community by volunteering at FTC & FRC competitions.