2014 FTC Season Update

The holidays were a busy time for FIRST Robotics teams. In addition to anticipating the announcement of the 2014 FRC Game, North Brunswick’s five FTC teams (2825, 3719, 6508, 3568 and 7906) were playing this year’s game, Block Party, at NJ FTC Qualifying Events.

So far, three of the teams have qualified for the NJ FTC State Championship, which will be hosted at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in March.

Radioactive Raiders

Radioactive Raiders, winners of the Inspire Award and Winning Alliance Captain. [Left to right Samir Shah,Faheem,Coach Shan, Ashwin Venkat,Romit, Momin and Arjun]

FTC Team 6508, the Radioactive Raiders, qualified by being the Winning Alliance Captain and Inspire Award Winner for overall team excellence at the Livingston HS Qualifier on January 5th. Undefeated in the qualification rounds due to their autonomous scoring, they became the #1 Seed and invited Team 247, Fatal Error, and Team 3774, Hive Voltage, to join their alliance. They moved on to win the entire event. The Radioactive Raiders were also part of the Finalist Alliance at the Robo-CATastrophe qualifier earlier in November and have won many awards/nominations since their inception in 2012—including the distinction of a NJ Showcase Team for outstanding community outreach.

Radioactive Raiders

Ice Wolves, winners of the Gracious Professionalism Award. [left to right: ,Alka Nagar, Jonathan St.Ange, Keertnana Chirra]

FTC Team 3568, the ICE Wolves, was presented with the Gracious Professionalism award at Livingston for staffing many of the volunteering positions and assisting with the setup and tear down of the fields, scoring systems and concessions. They had already qualified for the State Championship by winning the Inspire Award at Robo-CATastrophe. FTC Team 7906 was the Winning Alliance Captain at the Liberty Science Center Qualifier.

FTC Team 2825, Raider Robot Riot, won the Motivate Award at Meets in Princeton and North Burlington.

Radioactive Raiders

FTC Team 2825, Raider Robot Riot.

We’re really proud of our FTC teams here at North Brunswick. Follow their journey on the collective North Brunswick FTC Robotics Facebook page.

Raider Robotix team to lead Thanksgiving Day parade in N.Y.C.

The local news decided to talk to us about our participation in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in N.Y.C this Thursday.
The following article appeared on My Central Jersey on November 25, 2013:

Raider Robotix team to lead Thanksgiving Day parade in N.Y.C.

Written by Cheryl Makin

While Santa Claus may bring up the rear of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, leading the 87th annual event on Thursday will be members of the high school’s Raider Robotix team.

As part of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, the Raider Robotix are one of five award-winning FIRST® Robotics Competition teams who, along with their robots, will be marching the route of the parade. The parade begins at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and can be seen on NBC. Joining Team 25, aka the Raider Robotix, will be Team 1538, The Holy Cows, from San Diego, Ca., Team 1477, Texas Torque, from The Woodlands, Texas, Team 180, S.P.A.M., from Stuart, Fla. and Team 16, The Bomb Squad, from Mountain Home, Ark.

The Raider Robotix were chosen because they were FIRST® world champions for the 2012 season, said Head Coach Wayne Cokeley, a science teacher at the high school. He and four students — junior Sarah Sleiman, 16, junior Kevin Zimmerman, 16, sophomore Samir Shah, 15, and 2013 NBHS graduate Tori Schamper, 18 — will be marching with their robot, Rasheed.

The entire experience has been an exciting first as FIRST® robots have never participated in the parade.

“Initially, we had to keep it a secret,” Cokeley said. “This invitation just came out of the blue. I was very surprised. As the details got released, it became a very big deal for us. Everybody recognizes the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — the balloons and the bands and now we will be right in the middle of it.”

The 12v battery-operated, 150-pound robots leading the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were designed and built for last season’s challenge, and have been modified by the students to perform tasks specifically for the parade. Texas Torque’s robot, “Sonic,” will cut the ribbon to signal the official start of the parade. Following the ribbon cutting, the other teams’ robots will shoot confetti as they march along the 2 1/2 route, ending at Macy’s Herald Square.

At the beginning of each competition season, teams receive a “kit of parts” made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components. No instructions are included. Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Unfortunately, the Raider Robotix recently lost their sponsor, Bristol Myers Squibb, due to the corporation’s budget cuts.

“We are on on our own this season,” Cokeley said. “But, we have been doing fundraisers and making our money for the season. We just held a great fundraiser in the beginning of November called Brunswick Eruption and hosted about 40 other robotics teams from our region. We are fortunate in that we always have received good support for many years from the school and the community.”

Cokeley and his students are busy preparing and looking forward to this “once in a lifetime” experience. They will arrive in New York on Wednesday night and be treated to two nights in a hotel and a Thanksgiving Day dinner after the parade.” Sarah, Samir and Kevin agreed they were “amazed” when they found out about the invitation to the parade.

“I was first speechless and then I started freaking out,” said Sarah, who will act as team spokeswoman on Thursday. “I screamed to my mom and then danced all around for a couple of days. I was just so happy. It really feels unreal. To have the robotics program honored like this means so much to us as a team. We are one happy family here and do a lot of community outreach and community service.”

“I am pretty excited,” Samir said. “It’s a big honor and will get our program a lot of notice and attention.”

“It is truly something big,” said Kevin. “I like that robotics is now getting a lot of attention. Seeing us at the parade is such a great way to reach out and turn other people onto robotics. They can see how engaging it can be for young people. For me, it combines science, math and working with my hands — those are the three things I love.”

Like many, North Brunswick High School Science Supervisor Michael Amendola will watch the parade on his own television

“There are a lot of DVRs already set for Thursday morning I’m sure,” he said. “The robotics program gets kids to build a complicated machine that solves a complicated problem year in and year out. It gets kids interested. This is great for the school and robotics program to get this kind of recognition.”

Choosing the four to represent the Raider Robotix at the parade was not easy, but Cokeley said Kevin, Sarah, Tori and Samir are very deserving. Each has a specific job on the robotics team and are extremely familiar with the current robot. Sarah handles business and public relations details, Kevin, a member of the operating team, drives the robot, and Samir is a programmer and works on the team’s website. Tori, a 2013 North Brunswick Township High School graduate, was head of the robot pit building crew and is coming back from her first semester at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Cokeley said.

“They are all good kids as is every kid on this team,” Cokeley said. “Being on a robotics team really give kids of all different interests a good base to go further. There is commitment and they learn to work as a team. There is so much time, effort and thought that goes into what we do here. I’m very proud of these guys.”

The biggest challenge for the parade team has been conditioning themselves and the robot for the 2 1/2 mile walk. Also, because the other teams marching come from areas much further away, the Raider Robotix will act as the local host.

“Robots run on batteries,” Cokeley said. “We had to change out the battery to a marine low range battery that is usually used on boats. We are also creating little carts so should any team’s robot have a problem, we can quickly get it up on a cart and drag it along the route.”

“We practiced walking 2 1/2 miles on the track last week,” said Kevin, whose brother Michael was also a member of the world championship team in 2012. “We’re good to go.”

The Raider Robotix has about 40 members on its high school team, said Cokeley, who founded the team in 1997. There are about 75 students in the 9th grade, middle and elementary school teams. They have been world champions twice, in 2000 and 2012 and have been to the final four six times, he said.

“We don’t always win, but we have been to the big stage several times,” Cokeley said. “It’s really like going to the Olympics for us, but we only get six weeks of training.”

The 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will be aired live from New York City on November 28, 2013 beginning at 9 a.m. ET on NBC.


It’s a very exciting opportunity to be offered. All of us here at Raider Robotix are honored and excited to be represented in NY this week. We are also grateful for the continued support of our community, alumni, sponsors, Board of Education and many NBTHS personnel.

Brunswick Eruption 12 Thanks and Congrats!

The 12th installment of our annual off-season event, Brunswick Eruption, was held on Saturday, November 11, 2013 and was our largest event yet! 40 teams hailing from Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania descended upon the NBTHS gymnasium to play the 2013 FRC game, Ultimate Ascent, one last time.

Congratulations to the following teams for taking home coveted Brunswick Eruption Tiki Trophies at this year’s event:

Winners: 1923, 369, 375
Finalists: 1626, 1279, 1143
Hoku Award: 1676
Mahalo Award: 303
Food Drive Champion: 806
Shoe Drive Champion: 806
Evil Sundae Survivor: Tyler from Team 2559
Kumu (Mentor/Teacher) Award: Craig Evans (Team 1089)

Additionally, congratulations to team mentors Kristian Calhoun and Lauralynne Cokeley for being the recipients of this year’s Big Kahuna awards!

Finally, we would like to thank Mid-Atlantic Robotics (MAR), the North Brunswick Board of Education, Raider Robotix Parent & Mentor Association (RRPMA) and the following key volunteers for helping make this event possible!

Master of Ceremonies: Katie Stevens
Game Announcer: Jeff Bunca
Event Manager: Bharat Nain
Volunteer Coordinator: Nathalie Tran
FTA: Wiliam Limratana
FTAAs and CSAs: Oliver Graff, Mark McLeod, Josh Morris
Field Supervisors: Brian Sherman and Corey Kirschner
Scorekeeper: Kevin Dieterle
Referees: Kristian Calhoun, Sam Alexander, Angela LoPiccolo, Jeffrey Huber, Nour Srouji
Lead Queuer: Koko Ed Patterson
Judges: Sam Couch, Holly Waldman, Clifford Dey, Amanda Fowler
Executive Sponsor: Chef Timothy McGuire
Webcast and A/V Manager: Brian Mollica
Photographers: Brandan Calhoun, Carl Hansen

Pictures from the event will posted shortly.

Additionally, match footage will be uploaded to the Raider Robotix YouTube Channel. Subscribe!

Match Results: http://be.raiderrobotix.org/matchresults/
Rankings: http://be.raiderrobotix.org/rankings/

We look forward to seeing everyone back at next year’s Brunswick Eruption!

Thank You Mayor Womack!

Mayor Womack (left) and other town council members pose with Raider Robotix team members Kevin, Sarah, Keertana, and Jason at North Brunswick's Heritage Day Festival.

Mayor Womack (left) and other town council members pose with Raider Robotix team members Kevin, Sarah, Keertana and Jason at North Brunswick’s Heritage Day Festival.

On Thursday, October 24th, the mayor of North Brunswick, Francis “Mac” Womack, held a 50/50 raffle to benefit Raider Robotix as part of a charity fundraising event. In the end, $450 was donated to our team. These funds will be used to purchase a new set of eight robot batteries to be used during the upcoming 2014 season.

Raider Robotix is extremely grateful and would like to extend a sincere thank you to Mayor Womack and the North Brunswick Board of Education for their continued support and sponsorship of our team.

Shoe Recycling Program Underway for 2013-2014

ShoeBox RecyclingOur Shoe Recycling program is continuous, running year-to-year and throughout the summer. It has turned out to be an important source of funding for the team, and we’re proud of what we’ve done to help the environment. A huge Raider Robotix thank you goes out to everyone who has made it possible though their donations.

If this is the first you’re hearing about our shoe drive, the concept is simple. Everyone has old shoes they’re no longer using. Maybe they’re outgrown, maybe they’re out of style, maybe you just don’t like them anymore. Still, those shoes are serviceable and you just feel rotten throwing them out. So there they are, taking up valuable space in the bottom of the closet, year after year.

Here’s what to do. Give them to us! We’ve partnered with Shoebox Recycling who recycles them to those in need. We collect and ship the shoes in exchange for cash, which goes directly to supporting the team. It’s a win-win-win-win proposition!

We accept all kinds of shoes – men’s, women’s, kids, as long as they’re complete pairs and reusable and re-wearable. Athletic shoes, dress shoes, casual shoes, work boots, sandals, heels, flats…. it’s all good. There are a few, though, that can’t be accepted. Flip flops, crocs, skates, etc. Here’s a cool color flyer that has all the details.

Okay, you’ve decided that yes, you can help us by donating your footwear. How do you get it to us? That’s easy, too! Simply email us (shoes@RaiderRobotix.org) and we’ll take it from there.

Maybe you’re wondering if you can take it to the next level. After all, if you have unwanted shoes in your closet, it’s likely your friends, family and co-workers do too. And the answer is yes, you can! We can arrange to get an attractive box to make collection easy. (See that flyer for a picture.) Then email us and we’ll get it picked up.

Did you notice the other flyer we use to publicize the program? We’ve got one of these in Microsoft Word format that you can customize or personalize. The blue box in the upper right corner is a perfect place for your own message, for example, The Acme Widget Corporation is proud to support Raider Robotix – FRC Team 25 by recycling used footwear! Donate today!

Thank you again for helping us with this most successful program. Over the years we’ve shipped thousands of pounds of shoes. It’s good for you, good for us, good for the planet AND its people.

Heritage Day Demonstration

For the past 31 years, North Brunswick has held its annual Heritage Day Festival, a time for the entire community to come out and celebrate everything that makes up our great town. This year, Raider Robotix was once again in attendance. Many team members walked around the festival handing out team fact sheets and talking to passers-by to help spread awareness about our team.  We also demonstrated our 2012 World Championship winning robot, Rasheed “The Sheed” Wallace. The demonstration consisted of our robot launching basketballs into a crowd of children who were eagerly awaiting to catch them. “Seeing kids’ faces light up with smiles as they caught the basketballs really touched us deeply,” team member Jason Levash said. “If you asked a few years ago if many kids in our community were interested in robotics, the answer would have been no. Today, we were ecstatic to see that Raider Robotix has a sparked an interest in STEM with the younger members of our community,” he added.  Overall, participating in Heritage Day was a great way to spread the message of FIRST, as well as strengthen the bond we share with our town. After seeing how much of a difference we truly make in this town, Raider Robotix is eagerly counting down the days until Heritage Day 2014. Skip to 00:15 of this Mycentraljersey.com video to see our bit of the action.

Announcing the formation of Raider Robotix Parent & Mentor Association, Inc.

Our parent support organization, Raider Parent Mentors, has been incorporated as Raider Robotix Parent & Mentor Association, Inc. The newly formed corporation enjoys 501(3)(c) status as a charitable organization, as a member of Parent Boosters, USA.

The first annual meeting will be held at the High School August 8, 2013.

At this important meeting, members will vote on the Bylaws and Officers will be nominated for the coming school year.

Enroll today.