Last weekend, the North Brunswick Youth Sports Organization held their annual June carnival near DeVry University. Our program was represented by team members and alumni who ran a booth at the event, greeting the public and inviting them to play a game where they could win a goldfish as a prize. FTC teams 3568, Ice Wolves, and 6508, Radioactive Raiders, brought over their smaller robots to demonstrate and get young passers-by interested in FIRST. Children from elementary to middle school ages inquired about the program and our upcoming LEGO Camp and were able to drive the FTC robots. The team also collected shoes for our Shoe Drive in partnership with ShoeBox Recycling and the Milltown Payless Shoes store. The team raised a considerable amount as a result of the event and is grateful to the North Brunswick Youth Sports Organization for letting us be a part of their event.
Early last month, Raider Robotix received the unfortunate news that our primary corporate sponsor, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), would no longer be able to financially support FRC teams for the upcoming 2013-2014 FIRST season. Bristol-Myers Squibb has been a sponsor of Raider Robotix since the team’s fourth season in 2000. That year, the company’s generous support and talent allowed us to build our first national championship winning robot. Since then, BMS has aided us throughout the last 14 years, which has included 11 Regional wins, 5 Championship Division wins, and a World Championship title.
The following article appeared in the Home News Tribune on May 31, 2013:
North Brunswick Township High School Robotics Team Faces Financial Woes
Written by Steph Solis
North Brunswick Township High School’s Raider Robotix team has conquered national and world championships, but it ends the school year with a challenge: seeking new sponsors.
Team 25 has started scouting businesses and organizations to fund it for the FIRST Robotics Competition’s 2014 build season. The registration fee alone costs the team about $6,000.
One of North Brunswick team’s major sponsors, Bristol-Myers Squibb, announced in a letter that it will be unable to sponsor it next season because of unforeseen budget cuts to its New Jersey Community Grants budget.
Raider Robotix, who won For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’s world championship competition in 2012, was sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb for more than 15 years and has been mentored by Bristol-Myers Squibb employees.
The Bristol-Myers Squibb letter addresses only the budget for the following season, but there is no guarantee of whether the cuts are temporary.
Despite the budget cuts, Bristol-Myers Squibb employees will continue to mentor Team 25 members and its other sponsored teams.
The budget cut affects all of the robotics teams Bristol-Myers Squibb assisted, including those at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, Montgomery High School and Hopewell Valley Central High School, among others.
Changing sponsorships is not uncommon for robotics teams, but securing the funding is crucial for each team. The FIRST guide to creating a robotics team lists sponsorships as one of the key items needed for a new team. However, members said the process can be difficult, especially for such a large sum.
Teams have to build a new robot and training field each year, depending on the game FIRST creates for that season. The process can cost thousands of dollars. Raider Robotix is one of many teams that have had to recycle parts (or “cannibalize” the robots, as Team 25 members say).
Sarah Sleiman, who does public relations for the team, said she has spent the last couple of weeks researching grants and potential sponsors.
“It’s really hard,” said Sleiman, a sophomore. “I research what businesses and companies would fund education. (I) go online, hunt through the website, fill out a 10-page form, which is dreadful. Maybe they contact you two or three months later.”
Sleiman and other members raise funds for Raider Robotix locally. Sleiman said she visited more than 50 small businesses last year to seek donations for Team 25’s expenses and managed to get a handful to donate roughly $100 to $200 each.
Over the years, Team 25 has prepared to manage a tighter budget. They used to receive thousands of dollars more from sponsorships, which they would use to stock up on parts and other expenses, assistant coach Bob Goldman said.
North Brunswick has expanded its contributions to the robotics team. The school is opening a new machine shop next year, which will help the team produce its parts and build its robots and training fields more easily.
Since Raider Robotix launched in 1997, it has stood out as one of the top teams in the country. In 2000, the team won the national championship. Team 25 has won dozens of regional tournaments and won awards at the national and world competitions. The team won the world championship in St. Louis last spring.
North Brunswick celebrated the victory, holding a pep rally in honor of the members, head coach Wayne Cokeley said. At the pep rally, Cokeley told students about the team’s success and the impact of science and technology.
“Raider students drive nuclear submarines, design medical diagnostic equipment and work with NASA on the next Mars exploration robots,” he said at the pep rally. “Raider Robotix graduates are changing the world for all of us, and we have barely scratched the surface of the $15 million scholarship money that’s available to them.”
Members said that sponsorship is crucial to keep the team in FIRST. It is where many students get hands-on training in programming and other skills in science and technology, as well as access to scholarships.
Without Team 25, students said, they would lose access to science and technology training, as well as FIRST scholarships.
Senior Kevin Ramachandran, who heads the team’s scout crew, said he chose to pursue computer science in college because of robotics. He spends 45 hours a week on average doing scouting work during build season.
“When I came here, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Ramachandran said. “This made me know what I wanted to do.”
Despite concerns, members said they believe Team 25 will survive the funding issue. Students such as senior Kelly Petersen, a member of the scout crew, say that sustaining Raider Robotix helps the school’s reputation.
“We’re probably one of the biggest reasons why (North Brunswick is) known,” she said.
Since the article was published, Raider Robotix has received a $50 donation from Cornerstone Architectural Group. We thank them kindly for their assistance. Any amount of support will help us towards our fundraising goals.
If you or your company is interested in sponsoring Raider Robotix or learning more about what our program offers, feel free to contact head coach Wayne Cokeley directly at email@example.com. We can also be reached on the web via our official Facebook and Twitter pages.
On Sunday, March 10, 2013, four of North Brunswick Township High School’s FTC teams competed against 45 other teams at the New Jersey FTC State Championship.Team 3568, the ICE Wolves, seeded 8th out of 24 teams in the Parkway Division. They were then selected by the first place team to join their alliance. They went on to win their division and ultimately the championship!
Team 6508, the Radioactive Raiders, were also in the Parkway Division, where they finished in 11th place and were picked by the 4th seeded alliance captain. However, the Radioactive Raiders were bested by the ICE Wolves in the divisional semi-finals.
In addition to winning gold, the ICE Wolves also won the state level Motivate Award! The Motivate Award celebrates a team’s enthusiastic spirit and efforts to make themselves and FIRST well known throughout their school and community.
Congratulations to the ICE Wolves and our three other FTC teams for a very successful season!
- Robot Features:
- Picks discs up off of the floor.
- Adjustable tilt allows for shooting discs into the high goal from multiple locations.
- The climbing mechanism is able to hang from the top rung of the pyramid for 30pts.
- Programmed for multiple, multi-disc autonmous modes.
On Saturday, January 5th, 2013, a new FRC season began. Members of Raider Robotix gathered at Montgomery High School to watch the kickoff broadcast on NASA TV and pick up the team’s new kit of parts. Meanwhile, several mentors and alumni traveled to New Hampshire to go hands on with the playing field for this year’s game challenge, Ultimate Ascent:
During the first week of the six week build season, the team spent time brainstorming strategies, building prototypes, modeling potential designs, and fabricating a practice playing field. Our programmers have also started developing code and are experimenting working with different sensors by using last year’s practice base as a testbed. Finally, the scouting team has created the first draft of a paper scouting sheet and are starting to design a computer program to analyze the data they collect at competitions.
On January 5th, 2013 all four North Brunswick FTC teams attended the NJ FTC Liberty Science Center Qualifier hosted by Team 4220, the Landroids. Two teams, FTC Team 3568, the ICE Wolves, and FTC Team 6508, the Radioactive Raiders, already qualified for the New Jersey State Championships and were at the event to help out by evening out the number of teams attending. The other two teams, FTC Team 2825, and FTC Team 3719, the Rampage Raiders, were at the qualifier fighting for a spot to go to the New Jersey State Championships.
Each team competed in five qualification matches at this event. At the end of the qualification matches, the top four teams each chose one partner to join their alliance to play in the elimination matches. These final matches would determine the final winners of the competition.
Since this was a qualifier event, the two North Brunswick FTC teams that had already qualified for the state championship were asked not to compete in the elimination matches in order to give other teams a chance to qualify. As such, FTC Team 3719, the Rampage Raiders, was chosen to be in alliance with FTC Team 6337, the Metal Marauders. In the end they came in forth after losing in semi-finals. FTC Team 2825 played and tried very hard, yet were seeded 8th out of 30 teams and were not chosen to be apart of an alliance. However, they will be trying and playing even harder to qualify for states as they compete this upcoming Saturday at the Frozen Frenzy Qualifier at the Timothy Christian School in Piscataway. We wish them and the other teams attending good luck and look forward to seeing them at states.
We would like to thank Liberty Science Center and the Landroids for organizing and hosting this competition. The event went smoothly and was a fun event for everyone in attendance. We’d also like to thank North Brunswick alum and FTC FTA and Referee Howard Cohen for being there to support our teams.
Although the highlight of this Saturday, January 5th will be the announcement of the much anticipated 2013 FRC game, there is another event taking place. Two of Raider Robotix’s four FTC teams will be competing at the NJ FTC Liberty Science Center Qualifier event.
The FTC season coincided with the start of the school year and began on September 8, 2012 with the announcement of this year’s game, Ring It Up:
North Brunswick Township High School has four FTC teams: Teams 2825, 3568, 3719, and 6508. Many, but not all, of these students are introduced to the “JV Raider Robotix” program as freshman via encouragement from the high school’s freshman engineering courses taught by coach Roger Weiss. In total, the teams are comprised of approximately 70-80 students across grade levels. For example, Team 3568 has retained many of its original 2011 members, who are now sophomores, but also has members who are freshmen or juniors. Some of these students are also active on the FRC team. In general, the FTC teams at NBTHS are an excellent way to introduce students to FIRST teach them valuable skills before the FRC season begins.
With such a large number of participants, the FTC teams are primarily student led in every aspect from mechanics to programming to team image, outreach, and marketing. Several dedicated adult mentors and coaches provide guidance and assistance when needed (e.g. machining raw materials). With this approach, students are put front and center in a FIRST environment and are able to experiment and empirically learn what factors are needed to create a winning team in all aspects.
Several of the FTC teams have already achieved success this season and are qualified to attend the NJ FTC State Championship at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in February.
FTC Team 6508, the Radioactive Raiders, won their ticket by being the finalist alliance captain at the Robo-Joust Qualifier held in Livingston, NJ. Additionally, Team 6508 won the Motivate Award at the Bridgewater-Raritan meet earlier in November.
FTC Team 3568, the ICE Wolves, qualified by winning the Think Award at the 26 team Robo-CATastrophie Qualifier held in Maplewood, NJ. They also won the Innovate award at the smaller Cookie Carnage meet at West Windsor Plainsboro North High School.
FTC Team 3719, the Rampage Raiders, won the Motivate Award at the Moorsetown, NJ weekend meet held on December 9th.
Team 2825 will compete for the first time this weekend at the Liberty Science Center competition, along with Team 3719. Both teams are hoping to qualify for the state championship at this event.
Good luck teams!