The following article and video were published by Tom Haydon of The Star Ledger on NJ.com. Here is the original article.
North Brunswick High School wins national contest for creating robot that’s got game
NORTH BRUNSWICK — “Rasheed” rolled down the court, stopped at the foul line and launched a shot that banked off the backboard and dropped through the basket, drawing a roar from the crowd.It wasn’t a member of the varsity team making the shot, but a 4-foot-high robot, built by North Brunswick High School’s student robotics team, which last month won an international competition.
The second shot out of Rasheed’s (more about the name later) metal chute missed the basket. Undeterred, senior Mohanish Shinde swiftly worked the remote controls, steering the robot to roll over the high school gymnasium floor, scoop up miniature basketballs and then go back to the foul line and sink four more crowding-pleasing shots.
“It’s broken right now,” Shinde said of the robot. “That’s why we were missing shots.”
He quickly identified a loose gear, a malfunctioning battery and a faulty light that lines up the shot.
“In shipping it from St. Louis, it was messed up,” he said. It was in a competition in St. Louis, Mo., last weekend that the North Brunswick students topped 400 other teams from around the world — some coming from Australia and Israel.
More than 3,400 teams entered the competition, which begins each January. Teams are given a different task each year and then have six weeks to design plans, write a computer program and build a robot to do that task.
“It was really like the real world. You have no time,” said senior Tom Ikus, who led the pit crew and the building crew.
Adding to the difficultly this year, the school lost a major sponsor who had provided a work area for construction of the machine.
robot-north-brunswick-high-school-2.JPGAndrew Mills/The Star-LedgerTommy Ikuss (right) a North Brunswick High School senior, makes some last-second adjustments on their robot before a school-wide pep rally Friday afternoon. This robot won an international robotics competition last weekend in St. Louis.
Students worked late nights in North Brunswick and spent weekends sharing a work area with a school in Pennsylvania.”It’s full-time work. It’s like a varsity sport of the mind,” said Ikus, whose brother, Joseph, a junior, is also on the team.
North Brunswick won national robotics championships in 2000 and last year, but the school team had a slow start this year, with a poor showing at an early competition.
“We weren’t even expected to be in St. Louis,” said Wayne Cokeley, the North Brunswick high school teacher who has coached the robotics team for 17 years.
However, the team got in gear and won state, regional and national competitions, and then went onto international finals, performing well each time.
“We were making 14 out of 15 baskets in 2½ minutes,” Cokeley said. “That’s pretty good.”
Students named this year’s robot Rasheed Wallace after the retired professional basketball player who holds the record for most “technical” fouls.