Hatboro-Horsham Event Recap

This past weekend, February 28 – March 2, Raider Robotix competed in our first official event of the 2014 competition season.

FRCGameSenseHHIn the week leading up to the MAR Hatboro-Horsham District Competition, there was some online buzz about how Team 25 would perform. On ChiefDelphi, Looking Forward, notorious for his event predictions, mentioned us twice. On the new online webshow, FRC Game Sense, four out of the show’s five hosts predicted Team 25 would either seed first at the event or be part of the winning alliance. We felt confident in our robot and design strategy coming into the event (that our new driver also had three weeks of practice under his belt helped too).

In typical Raider Robotix fashion, we encountered transportation issues on the way to the event. Unlike our battery cart falling off of a bus onto the NJ Turnpike in 2007, running out of gas on the way to kickoff in 2008, or having a bus break down on the way to Championships in 2012, this time the battery in the truck we rented to transport the robot to the competition had died.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 10.38.34 PMOnce the robot finally arrived at the event, we set up our pit display, which included a new pit banner and a 7% scale 3-D printed model of our robot. Our pit was located right next to the robot inspection station, so we received a lot of attention from all of the teams passing by. In the room full of robots with catapults and other launchers, our dedicated catching robot stood out in a good way. We happily demoed the robot’s functions to everyone who asked.

3D Printed RobotIn our practice matches Saturday morning, we performed two successful catches and felt good heading into the qualification rounds. Unfortunately since this was a week one event, there were a variety of field issues and inconsistent referee calls. After playing 12 qualification matches, we had a 6-6 record and were ranked 16th out of the 40 teams attending. Ignoring the field issues that decided the outcome of several of our matches, we all believed we played and strategized well enough to be a top pick during the alliance selections. Our friends on Team 1647, the Iron Devils from Tabernacle, NJ, seeded third and selected us as their first round draft pick. We then rounded out our alliance with Team 2234 from Newtown Square, PA.

We swept the quarterfinals in two matches, posting the highest scores in the series. In the first quarterfinal match, our robot caught two balls, one of which was a last second buzzer beater! In the video below, you can hear the crowd erupt in excitement!

We then went on to win our semifinals in two matches, advancing us to the finals to play against the number 1 alliance consisting of Teams 2590, 341, and 272. In the finals our alliance partners experienced some mechanical difficulties that prevented us from playing to our full potential and we lost in two matches. However, the powerful #1 alliance was very deserving and we congratulate them on the win!

Hatboro-Horsham TrophiesIn addition to winning the District Finalist award at the competition, we were ecstatic to have been selected by the judges as recipients of the District Engineering Inspiration Award! The Engineering Inspiration award “Celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community” and is one of the top honors in FIRST. Our team will go on to compete against the five other MAR Engineering Inspiration Award winners at the MAR Championship held at Lehigh University in April. We also received a peer “Stormie” award from Team 2729, STORM Robotics, for our robot’s creative design.

Our next competition is March 22-23 at Seneca High School in Tabernacle, NJ.

2014 Build Season Update

The new FRC season began on January 4, 2014. Raider Robotix attended the local kickoff event at Montgomery High School to participate in workshops, watch the game reveal, and pick up our kit of parts. After the event we met to read the game manual and discuss various strategies and scoring methods. Meanwhile, several Raider Robotix mentors had traveled to the official FIRST kickoff site in New Hampshire to go hands on with the playing field for this year’s game challenge, Aerial Assist:

In the past three weeks, Raider Robotix has been silent-but busy! During the first week of build season, the team spent time brainstorming strategies, modeling and prototyping potential designs, and fabricating different field components. The Drive team mocked up a catching device on an old practice base and drove it around to see how feasible catching the ball would be.

During the second week, the mechanical team finalized the design for our drivetrain and chassis. We then began to manufacture and assemble it, which included shaving down and cutting tread into our custom Skyway wheels. We’re in the stages of completing the design for the superstructure and mechanisms that will be mounted on top of the drive base.

The Scouting team held a presentation to introduce the process of scouting to new team members. Since then, they designed the paper scouting sheet that will be used to collect data about robots’ match performance at competitions. Now, they are working on developing scouting software that will aggregate and display the collected data. We also received a generous donation from Penn Warehouse & Distribution Inc., which the scouting team is using to buy a camcorder and memory storage to use to film matches at all of our events.

The Awards team has been very busy brainstorming and assembling information for our Chairman’s Award submission. After choosing a theme and completing an outline, they have begun drafting the essay. They also wrote a preliminary script for the video and will begin filming in the coming weeks.

Build season has been exciting and tiring, but we manage to stay afloat thanks to the support of our coaches, mentors, and meal support from the RRPMA on late nights. Stay tuned for more progress throughout build season. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for updates on what we’re up to!

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.