Robotics Team Earns National Title
Written by Gene Racz, Staff Writer
NORTH BRUNSWICK — North Brunswick High School’s robotics team captured its second national championship this past weekend in St. Louis, where its mechanical creations excelled in the “Rebound Rumble.”
North Brunswick’s robots outperformed the competition by outscoring them by shooting miniature basketballs into tiny hoops and playing superior defense on a tabletop court. The skills challenge featured about 400 teams from around the world.
The competition, which began with 2,343 teams in 12 countries, was held by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). The nonprofit organization, founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, has a stated mission to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.
North Brunswick’s team, called Raider Robotix, teamed up with a school from Stuart, Fla., and a school from Mountain Home, Ark., in the finals, which were conducted over three days at the Edward Jones Dome.
“The robotic club is like our ambassadors from North Brunswick who reflect our students’ capabilities,” said North Brunswick High School Principal Pete Clark. “We’re very proud that they carried the name of North Brunswick to St. Louis and were very successful. There’s a tremendous amount of time and effort put in, sometimes seven days a week with somebody always working or doing something.”
North Brunswick school officials said students on the active robotics team list who played integral roles at the championships were Mohanish Shinde, Sue Pedapudi, Tommy Ikuss, Damian Plavnicky, Harrison Kaye, Joseph Ikuss, Tori Schamper, Michael Zimmerman, Michelle Wong and Tristan Tushinski. The coaches were Wayne Cokeley, Ernest Weiss and Robert Goldman.
Raider Robotix was founded in 1997. In 2000, after hosting an open house, the local Bristol-Myers Squibb office agreed to lend financial and technical support to the team.
The team won the national championship that year. Since 2000 Bristol-Myers Squibb has supported the team by providing funds and mentors with machining capabilities.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and it’ s also a tremendous community accomplishment,” Clark said. “Bristol- Myers is the one who helps support it by providing technical help and funding, and then there is the work of the parents, the coaches and, of course, the kids.”