Congratulations to JV Raider Robotix

Our three teams had a great day today at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ. Roger Weiss, our Volunteer Coach, works extensively with the FTC program and our JV teams. Roger wrote:

Hello All,

As you all now ponder solutions to this years FRC challenge I am PROUD to congratulate teams 2825 and 3568 for winning awards today at the well documented Liberty Science Center which earns them a spot at the state championships at NJIT on Sunday Feb 12th.

We had a very exciting and rewarding day at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Our 3 teams performed well coming away with two awards. Team 2825 was a semifinalist , Team 3719 played each game diligently but luck was not on their side today and team 3568 was no threat as they demonstrated the path of pure frustration to enlightened achievement.

Team 3568 – the ICE Wolves – won the “Think” Award This award is given to the team that best reflects the “journey” the team took as … robot. Journal entries of interest to judges for this award will include those describing the steps, brainstorms, designs, … going as planned. A team will not be a candidate for this award if they have not completed the section of the Engineering Notebook …

Team 2825, team SWAG- won the “Connect” Award- This award is given to the team that most connected with their local community and … an essential part to their success. The recipient of this award is recognized for helping the community understand FIRST , the … Challenge, and the team itself. The team that wins this award is aggressively reaching out to engineers and exploring the opportunities …

In the four years participating in FTC, Liberty Science Center, in my opinion, is the best place to host this type of competition. The touch tunnel is back and in operation!!!

See Howard in Action as referee, See Deep and Urmil focused on controlling their robot, Yes, Team 2825 painted all their faces yellow and blue. See Diyvia and Alexa’s reaction after a match – check out’s pictures of the event.

Also watch Tapesh and Deep focused on playing the game at NEWS 12, NJ. I turned on channel 12 when I got home and that was the first event on the NEWS.

Of Course POPE JOHN’s 247 played against 248 in the championship with one of the “Watts” teams. Also as an FYI, Pope John is number 1 in the US for the Lego Space Shuttle Challenge at MIT.

Enjoy your Sunday
Mr. Weiss

Congratulations to our JV teams!


Brunswick Eruption 10 Results

Thanks to all of the team members, coaches, volunteers and parents who stepped up to make this an event to remember.

The Brunswick Eruption winning alliance consisted of Teams 1676, 1075 and 2554.
The event finalists were Teams 25, 2559 and 369.
The Top Eight teams were  167610751089, 2559, 2180, 25, 41 and 56.
The Mike Wade Memorial Award winner: Jim Giacchi, Team 41.
The winner of the Minibot Challenge was Team 2607.
The Food Drive Champion was Team 806. (But all contributors were winners in the eyes of the North Brunswick Food Bank!)
The Aloha Award winner was Team 303.
The Dave Beck Memorial Award winner was Team 2180.
Best Autonomous Mode went to Team 1075.
The Big Kahuna Award winners were Walter Suchowiecki and Mike Lubniewski.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Don’t forget to check out the event photos in our gallery.

“Soda! Gimme Soda!”

Wayne Cokeley, Head Coach, burst into the back room of the Robot Room, the place where the team meets and works, looking visibly distressed – and quite red.

I was looking over the partially completed Brunswick Eruption awards trophies. The event is just days away and the trophies were looking good! Brunswick Eruption is a big deal and this afternoon was the final team meeting before the event. To say things were chaotic would be putting it mildly.

But just a second, I’m getting ahead of myself. It all started at the meeting last week when we were talking about the Evil Sundae Contest. The contest is a popular sidebar to the Brunswick Eruption event where we prepare ice cream sundaes with, um, special ingredients. Contestants attempt to consume their sundae as fast as possible. Some don’t finish. Some can’t finish. “Is hot sauce okay?” I asked. “Yes!” came the reply from the roomful of students. I had just the thing.

Mad Dog 357 is in a class by itself. Go hit YouTube, I’ll wait. I think that if Hell itself was full of nuclear plants melting down in a rainstorm of fluoroantimonic acid, then Mad Dog 357 would leak out. Like a fool, I said I’d bring some in next week. That would be today.

Mad Dog 357Mohanish was the first to try it. He likes spicy foods. But what about the ‘ol Mad Dog? Well, I’ve got a whole new respect for the gastrointestinal tract of this young man. He said it was “a little spicy” and took it in stride. If it affected him he didn’t show it.

Damian delivered doses of the stuff by dipping toothpick after toothpick into the bottle, doling out death on a stick to any takers. By the time an hour had passed most of the others had tested themselves. The reaction was more or less universal: abject horror.

The brownish viscous fluid passes the lips. Not so bad. Within seconds the burning begins, first wherever it touched but quickly spreading to wherever saliva takes it. The sensation doesn’t diminish – oh, no, it intensifies. Right about then the realization hits: that business going on in the mouth will soon be in the throat… and beyond. The desire to wash it away is very powerful at that point. Liquids don’t help, they only make things worse by spreading it faster. You can tell that to someone but they won’t listen.

I suppose that’s about where Cokeley was when he called desperately for soda. I tried to tell him about that but he wouldn’t listen either. Nobody does. His voice stopped working for a while after that. When he regained the ability to speak he pronounced, “we can’t have that stuff in the sundaes – somebody will get hurt.”

He’s probably right. No one within earshot disagreed.

So, if you’re coming down to compete at Brunswick Eruption and thinking about entering the Evil Sundae contest you can rest easy, secure in the knowledge that Mad Dog 357 won’t be part of the recipe. Instead we’re looking in places like this for inspiration. I’m looking for some Cuitlacoche tomorrow…

There are a few pictures of today’s madness in the Gallery.

Mr. Cokeley: Miles away from home

Written by Lana Li, Editor in Chief, The Banner. Previously published in the September/October 2011 issue of The Banner. Raider Robotix enslaves Mr. Cokeley as Head Coach.

Mr. Cokeley always yearns to go home.

He began exploring different ecosystems decades ago and the hobby has developed into a passion and lifelong pursuit. He has traveled to all of the states as well as dozens of places around the world.

But there is only one place to which Cokeley feels he belongs.

“I feel at home in the jungle,” he said. “The wilderness provides a very new and different feeling.”

Because of its warmth and high biotic diversity, the rainforest tops Cokeley’s list of favorite ecosystems.

Cokeley started camping and traveling when he was a little kid. He became interested in traveling in his teens.

“I was into nature and understanding it,” said Cokeley. “I found that many biological connections cross over into all aspects of life.”

Cokeley in Costa Rica. Click to enlarge.

Mr. Cokeley inspects a boa constrictor in the La Selva field station in Costa Rica. Photo courtesy of Wayne Cokeley.

It was college, however, that determined the path of his life. In courses like zoologyand ecology, Cokeley found that he absorbed information not because he wanted to maintain his GPA but because he was fascinated by his studies.

He realized that he never wanted this fascination to fade. He decided to become a high school biology teacher so that he could encourage the same enthusiasm in his students and so that he would be able to spend the long summer breaks traveling to very different places of the world.

“I grew up in Middlesex County, New Jersey,” Cokeley said. “All these trips are an opportunity to see and learn something new every time. You get to see a whole new way of what people believe.”

Teachers also receive lots of research grant opportunities. Cokeley has never been turned down from a grant. He believes that it is because in his applications, he always says that in addition to his experience and willingness to help research, he can repair a broken car. He has received generous grants from the Earthwatch Institute, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

In many of the communities he has visited abroad, people lived entirely different lifestyles. Many places had limited water and no hot water or air conditioning, let alone the latest technological and scientific equipment.

“People [scientists] do amazing things with limited resources,” said Cokeley.

To help out the local people, Cokeley likes to bring school supplies, clothing and soccer balls with him on his trips.

“It means a lot more to them than it does to us,” he said. Oftentimes, a partnership formed between the village people and researchers. The scientists would persuade the local people to become more involved in conservation and in making the wildlife valuable to them.

Cokeley has studied the effects of Grevy zebra herds on vegetation, examined bees in Brazil, conducted a statistical analysis on rubber tree seeds and has worked long days in the middle of nowhere.

“A lot of people haven’t seen the things I’ve seen,” he said.

Over the summer, Cokeley drove to Montana and Wyoming from New Jersey to dig up fossils. He found fossils of sea life and dinosaur bones and submitted them to the Trenton State Museum.

Digging fossils brings back warm memories for Cokeley, as some of his first dates with Mrs. Cokeley were spent collecting them.

Although Mrs. Cokeley does not share the same passion as her husband, she always supports Mr. Cokeley’s journeys and endeavors.

“My wife’s happy to see me go every time,” joked Cokeley. On a more serious note, he added, “She knows I need to do it because it keeps me sane.”

Cokeley believes that everyone needs a home away from home. For him, it’s the wilderness. Perhaps the best part about calling the jungle home is that Cokeley can find the same comfort in multiple places; there are about 700 jungles in the world.

“When he talks about his travels around the world, he gives me so much inspiration,” said Harsha Seelam ’12, one of Cokeley’s AP Biology students. “He seems so full of experience and wisdom that you can’t help but admire him.”

“Students get all starry-eyed when I tell them these stories, but you guys can do the same thing,” said Cokeley. “It’s an amazing place out there.”

Though Cokeley will not be returning home to a jungle for a while, he will always crave the wet soil, humidity and rich wildlife of the rainforest. Sometimes, he even misses the mosquito bites.

It’s the strangest places we call home.

Minibot Evolution

The 2010-2011 FRC game, LogoMotion, called for the deployment of a mini-robot which would race up a steel pole for bonus points at the end of a match. Interestingly enough, those bonus points turned out to be very, very important.

Our production minibot fared well in competition but it wasn’t without an incredible amount of trial-and-error as well as solid engineering.

Over in out photo gallery you can see some of the key points in the evolution of our minibot and deployment mechanism. Below, video of testing the production deployment – titanium, aluminum and plastic capable of amputating body parts – being exercised on a spare robot base.

Brunswick Eruption Three

As Brunswick Eruption 10 draws closer, it’s interesting to take a look back and see how far we’ve come. This image is what our BE3 announcement page looked like on November 12, 2004. It was hosted on the now-defunct Geocities site.

Brunswick Eruption 3 Event Page

Image of our Brunswick Eruption 3 event page from Geocities on November 12, 2004. Click for a full-size rendering.

Did you or your team attend BE3? Comment on this post to tell everyone about your experience.

Image courtesy of the Wayback Machine, the place to lose yourself in the history of the Web.