Our History

The Plainedge School District first learned about and joined the FIRST Robotics program during the 2000-2001 school year under the guidance of physics teacher Robert Gandolfo. Since then, much has changed; the team no longer works out of an abandoned Home Economics room, and it no longer uses hacksaws to cut all of its parts. However, a lot has also remained the same, like the team's devoted mentor Mr. Gandolfo. The team's commitment to inspiring a new generation of capable thinkers and problem solvers has also prevailed through the years. It is this steadfast spirit, more than anything else, which defines the legacy and future of the Plainedge Robotics Program.

2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009
2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 - 2018


Diabolical Dynamics

Plainedge High School was the 527th team to join the FIRST Robotics program before the 2001 season. After some advertising, Mr. Gandolfo was able to assemble a small group of students with a diverse set of backgrounds and interests to participate in the team. No one knew what to expect, so every day was a learning experience while the team experimented with building their robot. At the end of the 6 week build period they had managed to build a fully functioning robot able to complete the task of the competition.


The first game the team ever competed in was called Diabolical Dynamics. Four teams worked together as one alliance. The basic goal of the game was to score different sized balls in a goal. At the start of each match, the alliance station contained twenty small balls. In addition there were twenty small balls and four large balls on the far side of the field which may be used to score points. An alliance could receive 1 point for each small ball in the goal and 10 points for each large ball in the goal.


The first year's robot was very heavy, large, and complicated but our team members were very proud of their design. The very first day of the competition in our rookie year, the team held onto 2nd place. By the last day of competition Plainedge finished in 18th out of 32 teams. A great accomplishment for our first year! The robot worked through out the entire competition and the team gained a large amount of experience that first year. 


Black Hole

Due to budget cuts across the Plainedge District our team was not able to compete in 2002. But, our founding members stuck with the true spirit of FIRST and fundraised enough money to keep the team alive. The team gave a presentation to the Plainedge Board of Education to regain support from the district and receive enough funds to participate in 2003. Since then, every year after our competition season is over the team invites the Board of Education to watch a presentation of what we did during the past year. 


Stack Attack

The 2003 year brought a big change to the team. Most returning robotics founding members (now mostly seniors) recruited a large amount of freshmen and got a renewed interest in the team. This year also brought a change in administration. Our mentor Mr. Gandolfo was now joined by our co-adviser in charge of public relations Mrs. Brennan. The team welcomed Mrs. Brennan and had a great beginning to the 2003 year. Mrs. Brennan inspired the formation of an art team in charge of team publicity, which is a tradition that has stuck with the team since then. She also encouraged the team to participate in the animation and website awards. The team got started earlier this year with the experience they gained from the 2001 season. The team made a practice robot to improve on the 2001 game. This robot was used to teach new members all the different tasks as well as give the team some experience with a new design. For the 2003 game the team worked extremely hard. During those six weeks of competition building the team had as many as 25 people working 6 days a week. This is the first year the team introduced another tradition ... pizza for lunch on Saturdays. 


In the 2003 game of Stack Attack, robots were designed to collect and stack plastic storage containers on their sides of the playing field. The location of the robots and containers, as well as the height of the stacks at the end of the match determined each team's score.


The team's robot, appropriately named "Behemoth" for its slow speed. he design was clearly not the best but through a great defensive strategy the team was able to qualify in 9th place out of 39 teams. The robot suffered no electrical, pneumatic, or programming failures and only one mechanical failure when a chain fell off. The hard work by the team produced a very solid robot. In the elimination rounds Plainedge along with its two alliance partners was able to advance to the semi-finals where they lost to the alliance that went on to win the competition. 


FIRST Frenzy

In 2004, The team welcomed Ms. Candela, a science teacher at the High School, as the new co-mentor of the program after Mrs. Brennan's time was filled with the new responsibility of being head of the English department. This year the team was given our own room, an old unused textbook closet, and storage areas. We tried experimenting with some new design ideas in the very beginning of the school year. With our experience we gained from our previous years we now knew that the robotics program needed to get started early if we wanted to be competitive. We made a practice robot to test drive train designs on. We would later call this robot 'Noodle Bot' because of the noodles we put on the sides to protect the walls from damage when we drove the robot into them. This robot was so fast that we had trouble controlling it. We loved this design but could not use it because of the game design of climbing a step. Hopefully with the new code written over the summer and the introduction of better materials this design will be used in the year 2005 robot. Well this robot proved not only good for testing drive train but also in step climbing tests. Very late in the 2004 season we put pneumatic pistons on the frame of 'Noodle Bot'. This worked so well that we put this on our 2004 competition robot. 

The team continued to learn from their experiences and built "TORk," a robot capable of climbing steps and hanging from a 10ft. high bar. Even after coming in 46th place during qualifications, the team was picked to participate in the quarter-finals  by Team 467 due to its hanging capabilities. We were teamed up with some great alliance partners and we had a very good chance. All of our robots however experienced some technical difficulties. Ours for instance had a cable break in the last 10 seconds in the round and were not able to get up on the bar for 50 points.


Triple Play

Triple Play was the first game in which there were three robots to an alliance. It featured tetrahedral game pieces made of PVC pipe, called "tetras." The game was played on a field set up like a tic-tac-toe board, with nine larger goal tetras in three rows. The object of the game was to place the scoring tetras on the larger goal tetras, creating rows of three by having a tetra of your alliance's color at the highest point on the goal. Tetras scored on the top of a goal tetra (a larger aluminum version) were worth 3 points, while tetras scored inside the goals were worth 1 point. Rows of three tetras on top of the goals were worth ten points, so long as the row was there at the end of the two minute and fifteen second match. Ten points could also be scored if all three alliance robots were behind the starting line at their end of the field at the end of the game.


By the end of the qualification matches at the SBPLI regional, Team 527 was one of the top 8 teams, giving it the ability to choose the alliance members and participate in the semi-final matches. Teams 358 (Hauppauge High School) and 870 (Southold High School) were chosen as Team 527's allies. The alliance proved to be very successful as 527 advanced from the Quarter Finals to the Semi-Finals. 527 continued to the finals and won the competition. The team gained much recognition at the SBPLI regional and became more well-known in the Plainedge community.


Aim High!

In Aim High, the teams had to build robots that needed to score on an 8 foot high goal in the wall. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than your opponent alliance by scoring balls in the center or corner goals, and/or by having robots on your platform or ramp at the end of the match.


Team 527 used a wheel similar to a pitching machine to launch the foam balls into the goal. The team's robot was so effective that most other teams went out of their ways to block 527's robot. This year the team's leaders were Ken Colton and Steve Mckeefrey. The team went to Atlanta for the national competition this year and was fairly successful. This year the district's budget failed to pass. The team was on the list of cuts and lost funding. Even with no budget from the school, the team overcame these setbacks and did a fantastic job this year.


Rack and Roll

Rack and Roll was a giant game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Using three different types of tubes, teams would score points by hanging tubes on a center structure called 'The Rack'.


 Team 527's robot this year had a telescoping arm with a claw on the end. The drivers were Phil Haasnoot and Dom Guerriere. This robot was fairly successful. The team again made the trip to Atlanta for the championship competition. At the national competition, the team did not make it to the semi-finals, but won an award for best claw design.


FIRST Overdrive

Paul Geringer and Danielle Fuschetto became the two main leaders of the team as 527 entered the 2008 Competition: Overdrive. Pat Graziosi soon got the team involved in community organizing and getting an art team together. The team had a new co-mentor, Mr. Koenig, a math teacher who was very enthusiastic about learning about robotics and teaching new members.


The game involved moving a giant inflatable ball across the field. So, the team constructed a robot with two fishing pole nets attached to it to pick up the ball. Ken Colton, alumnus from 2006, designed a 3D model that influenced the design since the robot had to fit in a certain space. The drivers of the robot were Dom Guerriere and Matt Bruno. In the end, the team had an exciting year, going to Hofstra for the regional and Atlanta for the national competition. At Atlanta, the team was chosen to be in the playoffs. We didn’t place, but the team had fun trying.



The team re-welcomed Ms. Candela as it entered a new competition: Lunacy. Lunacy involved building a robot capable of driving on a lower friction surface and dropping orbit balls into opposing teams’ trailers. The game is supposed to resemble driving on the surface of the moon since it was the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11.

New leaders started to emerge as Dom Guerriere and Matt Bruno took charge of the team during the build season. 527 ended up building the robot with ten wheels because the team felt that it was the best way to provide traction. The design worked well and the team ended up calling its robot the “LlamaBot," because the ball holding carriage resembled a llama’s neck.


During our first competition in New York City, with a ten wheel tank drive system, the team was able to pin the other robots, stopping them from scoring. With the robot's pushing power 527 took second place in the SPBLI Regional and received a $1,000 grant from Senator Kemp Hannon. The team had a very successful year and it was ready to take on whatever challenge came next. At the SPBLI Regional, Team 527 placed second, thanks to its excellent drivers.



In the 2010 season, the team kicked off the year with immediate success. We won the SBPLI Musical Theme contest with The Power of Five by Kyle Carpenter (2011). The team gained $1000 thanks to this victory.


The 2010 game was called Breakaway. It consisted of shooting soccer balls at slightly elevated goals at the sides of the field. While the game pieces and field elements resembled gameplay similar to that of soccer, FIRST also adopted a new rule system based on soccer as well. Yellow cards meant the team recieved a penalty which indicated a small infraction, like pinning for too long or touching the game controls during autonomous mode. Red cards indicated major infractions such as intentional hitting or having two robots defend in an opposing zone.


The hardest part of the entire game was the fact that there were two 2-foot bumps in the middle of the field which robots needed to go over to score. In Team 527's design, it decided to use a piston-powered wheel-pivoting system.


This was the first year Plainedge robotics went to two regional competitions and the championship. The year before, the team had 25 members. However, this year, due to the ongoing success of the team, more than twenty new members became part of the team.



With nearly 15 new members, Team 527 grew quickly during the 2010-2011 school year. With the help of alumnus mentor, Ken Colton, and a few members, the team bulit this very website, the third official website of our team.


2011’s competition was called Logomotion. The idea was to create a robot that could take inner tubes and place them on a scoring board. The board consisted of three rows. The top row was worth the most points while the bottom was worth the least. The very beginning of each match consisted of the autonomous section, where the robot could be programmed to put up a yellow “ubertube”. During the teleoperated section, drivers must pick up inner tubes shaped like the iconic FIRST logo and place them on the rack. If a tube was successfully placed over an ubertube, the point value increases, and if the FIRST logo was assembled in the correct order, it was also worth more points. The final seconds of the game contained the minibot section, where 2 out of 3 teams on each alliance had the opportunity to deploy a minibot that could race to the top of two poles to score more points.The minibot section was usually a game changer, being worth (from first to last place) 30, 20, 15 and 10 points.


Thanks to the teamwork and contributions that every member made, Team 527 was able to take first place at the New York City regional at the Javits Center along with our teammates 359 and 395. The drivers this year were Jess Berg and Mike Musillo. The team also recieved the Team Spirit award at this regional thanks to the motivation of alumnus Patrick Graziosi and senior Chrissy Torre. The team also participated in the Long Island regional at Hofstra University, where it made it to the quarterfinals. The team went to Raleigh, North Carolina for its third and final regional of the year. In North Carolina, our team made it to the quarter finals yet again, and the team won the Excellence in Engineering Award. The team was featured in the April 10th edition of Newsday, and several other newspapers including The Great South Bay, and the Bethpage Tribune.


Rebound Rumble

The 2012 competition was called Rebound Rumble. For this game, teams needed to build a robot that could accomplish two tasks: shooting basketballs into hoops on three different levels, and driving up and balancing on ramps in the center of the field. There were three ramps; one for the red alliance, one for the blue alliance, and the Coopertition® bridge. At the end of each qualifying match, robots from both alliances could work together to balance on the bridge to earn qualifying points.


Our robot, Agnes, used a conveyor system to bring basketballs up to the shooter from the ground. The robot also had an arm on the front to bring down the ramps to drive up onto them. It was driven by Jess Berg and Alex Haas. This year, the team attended the SBPLI Regional and the Nationals in St. Louis.


The team was extremely successful at the Long Island Regional where we maintained a spot in first place when alliance selections took place. The team chose Team 1796 and 870. Our alliance became the 2012 Regional Champions. Besides winning the competition, the team also took home two other awards. Thanks to a beautifully written essay by Emily Reisert (2012), Mr. Gandolfo won the Regional Woodie Flowers Award. Team 527 also won the FIRST Quality award which honors teams that demonstrate the qualities of an ideal FIRST team.


The team was featured in many news sources due to its success. It was featured in the Great South Bay, two Newsday articles, and two specials on MSG Varsity. At the Nationals, the team was placed in the Galileo division. Though it did not win any awards or get into the semi-finals, it was a fun and memorable experience for the team.


Ultimate Ascent

The 2013 competition was called Ultimate Ascent. This year, teams needed to build a robot that could shoot Frisbees into one of five goals and hang completely on a pyramid. Our robot, Tomahawk, was able to shoot into the top goal as well as hang on the bottom level of the pyramid. This year we went to the Richmond Virginia Regional and the SBPLI Regional.


In Virginia we made it into the quarter finals and at SPBLI we were able to achieve second place thanks to our drivers Andrew Sullivan and Alex Haas. Our team was extremely involved in the community and was close to winning the Chairman’s award. One of our greatest accomplishments came from junior Dylan Wagner who won the Dean’s List Award which recognizes students for their technical knowledge, leadership skills and ability in guiding the team towards the mission of FIRST. The team was extremely proud of him.The team became even closer and although there were few seniors the team was as successful with few as it was with many. This was very a strong and successful year for the team.


Aerial Assist

The 2014 competition was called Aerial Assist. This year, teams had to build a robot that throws a large ball into one of the high or low goals. Teams received bonus points for scoring during the 10 second autonomous period. We also received points for throwing the ball over a truss in the center of the field. This year we attended the New York Tech Valley Regional at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the SBPLI Regional at Hofstra University.


At the SBPLI Regional we won the Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious awarded at a FRC Regional. This honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. The team has worked very hard toward this victory in the previous few years, earning a fourth consecutive medal. The team also received the UL Safety Hard Hat Award for the superior safety precautions our team demonstrated. Winning the Chairman's Award qualified the team to attend the national championship in St. Louis, Missouri. Through the hard work and dedication of its members Team 527 continued to succeed in 2014. It was an honor to receive the Regional Chairman’s Award , and the team will continue to spread the message of FIRST in the coming years.


Recycle Rush

Recycle Rush was a recycling-themed game in which robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. This game received major criticism across the FIRST community due to its lack of variety in gameplay strategy, and no contact with the opposing alliance. The team again attended New York Tech Valley Regional at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the SBPLI Regional at Hofstra University. 


At the New York Tech Valley Regional, the team did fairly well and made it to the quarter finals. We were awarded the Creativity Award. This award, sponsored by Xerox, celebrates creativity in design, use of component, or strategy of play.


The team had a very similar outcome at the SBPLI regional, once again advancing to the quarter finals, and we were given another award. This time we received the Innovation in Control Award. This award, sponsored by Rockwell Automation, celebrates an innovative control system or application of control components—electrical, mechanical or software—to provide unique machine functions.


For Team 527, this year was very different from the years before. After many of the team's leaders graduated the year before, and the departure of one of our mentors, the team's dynamic shifted greatly. But with the support of the countless alumni mentors and parents, the team is now stronger and better than ever.



The 2015 - 2016 year kicked off to a great start with Team 527 conquering the Half Hollow Hills Invitational with Team 263 in November. This was the first year that FIRST revealed the title of the FRC game prior to the kickoff in January. The name was announced as FIRST STRONGHOLD following a cryptic video with a medeival theme.


In Stronghold, robots are on a Quest to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower with boulders, and capture their tower. 


FIRST Steamworks

In Steamworks, teams were required to create a robot that could not only carry gears, but set them on a peg for pilots. Once on board, the pilots used a pulley system to hoist the gears onto the airship platform, where they were then meshed together with other gears previously collected by the alliance. With the correct amount of gears in place, a student would then crank them to rotate the propellers for extra points. If an alliance decided not to go with this course of action, robots had the option to throw fuel balls into the fuel processor for additional points. At the end of the match, robots could board the aircraft by climbing a rope that a pilot released from the top, for 50 extra points. 

Team 527 decided to focus on the gears as a plan of attack. Our members banded together with the community to create an agile robot, which brought us to become SBPLI regional finalists. Another accomplishment for Team 527 was our fellow member, Max Goshin, who was awarded as a Dean's List finalist. 



FIRST POWER UP consists of two alliances of video game characters and the human operators who are trapped in the arcade game. In order to escape, robots have to be able to pick up cubes and either put them in their corresponding color of switches, or the large scale. The longer the switches and scales remain in favor of that alliance, the more points can be gained throughout the round. at the end of the competition, robots have to climb the scale to gain extra points, and to face the big boss!

Team 527 worked together and with their community to overcome any potential obstacles that had come their way, while also excelling in gracious professionalism. Our team was invited to go to the First national competition in Detroit. An exciting achievement was our very own member, Nicole Jacobsen, to be awarded as a Dean's List finalist!


Deep Space

In DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE, we join two competing alliances collecting samples on planet Primus. Unpredictable terrain and weather patterns make remote robot operations essential to their mission on the planet. With only 2:30 until liftoff, the alliances must gather as many cargo pods as possible and prepare their spaceships before the next sandstorm arrives.

During this season, our team placed second at one competition and got to the quarter-finals in our other two competitions we attended. A lot of our younger members had the opportunity to gain on-field experience, allowing a strong foundation to form entering the 2020 competition season.

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