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.

Mentor List

Alumni Mentors

Jack Teadore
Head Coach – Programming – Electrical

February 2017

This is Jack’s seventh year as Co-Head Coach after being a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past sixteen years. He received his Master’s 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, JGT Computer Solutions, where he designs custom system solutions using hardware, software and computer networks. 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 has also taught robotics at the Gifted Child Society in Allendale NJ.

James “Doc” Whitfield
Head Coach – Mechanical

February 2017

This marks Jim’s seventh year as Co-Head Coach after being a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past twelve 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 traveled 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
Team Coach – Mechanical

January 2016

Kevin is currently the Pascack Pi-oneers’ lead Mechanical Engineering mentor, and was the head coach from 2008 to 2017. 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. He has been a math teacher at Pascack Hills High School since 2003 and was named the Pascack Hills Teacher of the year in 2018.
Kevin 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.  He also created many of the familiar aspects of being a Pi-oneer, including Pi-Tech training, design reviews, our engineering notebook, performance reviews, the team scorecard, and most of our internal safety practices. 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 QualifyingTournament. He led the proposal and program efforts of the Pi-oneers’ grant from the N.J. Dept of Education for forming new FIRST Tech Challenge teams in underserved areas of Bergen County. This past season, he was honored with the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award for the FIRST Mid-Atlantic Region.

Lisa Ruggieri
Team Coach – Management, Outreach, & Design (MOD)

February 2016

Lisa has been a coach and mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past twenty 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

February 2016

Steve has been a mentor with the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past sixteen 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.

DJ Solleder

February 2017

DJ has been a mentor with the Electrical Sub-Division for the Pascack Pi-oneers for the past ten 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.

Michael Herman

This is Mike’s seventh 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. This year he also hopes to learn from and work with the Programming Sub-Division. Mike has worked on Wall Street for over 25 years as a trader and trading analytics analyst.

Stephen Bacica

This is Stephen’s second year mentoring the Pascack Pi-oneers. He previously mentored an FRC Team in Texas as an electrical engineer originally from Los Angeles, CA. Stephen started his career as an electrical technician at Hughes Space and Communications winding transformers and prototyping analog circuits. From there he went on to Raytheon where we worked on power systems for laser guidance products for attack helicopters and F-18 aircraft. While at Raytheon Stephen completed his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. Stephen is currently working for Crestron Electronics as an engineering manager.

Kevin Lantry
Management, Outreach, & Design (MOD)

Kevin has been participating indirectly with the Pi-oneers since 2010, when his son Matthew joined the team. He is mentoring the MOD Division this year. Kevin studied Accounting at Fordham University CBA (’82) and earned an MBA concentrating in Quantitative Methods from Fordham GBA in 1986. He has worked for National Grid (and its corporate predecessors) since graduating college, most recently as a Data Engineer for their Economics and Load Forecasting group.

Adrian Pickering
Mechanical – Electrical

Dominic Estanislao
Mechanical – Electrical

This is Dominic’s first year as a mentor for the team, working with the Mechanical Subdivisions. He is the Picatinny STEM mentor for the Pascack Pi-oneers. He currently works for the Manufacturing Prototyping Technology Division at Picatinny Arsenal. Dominic received his bachelor’s degree from NJIT in Mechanical Engineering in 2020. He has been involved with FIRST since 2013 as a student and now a mentor.

Rob Levy
Information Technology

Rob graduated from the Pascack Pi-oneers in 2009 as Co-CEO of the team and leader of the Information Technology Division. He has been a mentor of the Info-Tech Sub-Division for the past ten 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-Levy
Management, Outreach, & Design (MOD)

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 seven 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 – Media – Strategy

January 2017

Ryan joined the Pascack Pi-oneers as a freshman for the 2010 season. He became leader of the Carpentry Sub-Division as a sophomore and was the team Co-CEO during his junior and senior years. Ryan also created the team’s YouTube Channel, featuring full-field footage of each competition Team 1676 attends. 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 a minor in Civil Engineering. The 2018 season marks Ryan’s tenth year with the Pascack Pi-oneers and sixth year as a team mentor.

Matt Lantry
Mechanical – Drive Team

Matt has been a mentor with the Pi-oneers for the past six years. He graduated from the team in 2014 as the Drive Team Operator and Mechanical Division member. He attended New Jersey Institute of Technology, graduating in 2018 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Matt is currently employed by Buck, Seifert & Jost Inc., a local civil engineering firm. Beside mentoring the Pi-oneers, Matt has mentored FRC Team 4475, FTC Team 7311 and 7312 during the 2015 season. 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 a robot inspector and an FLL competition judge. For fun, Matt competes with his own robots in the National Havoc Robot League and other venues.

Ellen Drennan
Scouting – Strategy

February 2016

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.

David Banovic

David has been mentoring the team for the past ten years. He joined the team in 2010 as a freshman as part of the Programming and Mechanical Sub-Divisions, as well as a member of the Drive Team in his final 2 years. Upon graduating high school he returned to volunteer as both a Mechanical and Drive Team mentor. David works with the Mechanical Sub-Division by teaching tool safety and robot design using CAD software. He has been the Drive Coach and now helps train new drive team members and discusses match strategies with them. 

Inspired by his teachers and mentors on the Pi-oneers, David pursued a career in education. He received his Bachelor of Science in Technology Education at the College of New Jersey in 2018 and received his Master’s in Integrative STEM Education from TCNJ in 2022. David has been employed as an engineering teacher at the Passaic County Technical-Vocational Schools District since 2018, where he teaches Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

Ella Hofstetter
Management, Outreach, & Design (MOD)

Ella graduated from the Pasack Pi-oneers in 2018 as a 3-year team member. She served as Non-Technical Division Leader, Photo/Video Sub-Division Leader, & Presentation Team member. Ella recently graduated from TCNJ with a major in mechanical engineering, and currently works for dbHMS. This is Ella’s first year serving as a judge at Bergen Brickfest.

Alex “Wolo” Wolosiuk

Alex Wolosiuk, a distinguished Senior at the New Jersey Institute of Technology majoring in Information Systems, has made significant contributions to the Pascack Pi-oneers, FRC Team 1676, over seven years. Starting as a dedicated team member and transitioning into an invaluable alumni mentor, Alex has played a pivotal role in the chassis sub-division, guiding the team to success with his deep understanding of robot design and construction. His expertise in information systems adds a unique perspective, merging technology with creativity and fostering an environment of innovation. Through his mentorship, Alex has not only propelled the team’s achievements but also nurtured personal growth among its members, establishing a legacy of technological excellence and commitment to the next generation of STEM innovators.

Brian “Larry” Buckley
Information Technology