Rasheed Receives Recognition

The following article and video were published by Tom Haydon of The Star Ledger on NJ.com. Here is the original article.

North Brunswick High School wins national contest for creating robot that’s got game

North Brunswick High School students show off their robot during a pep rally in front of the entire student body Friday afternoon. This machine – it can play basketball – won an international robotics competition last weekend in St. Louis.
-Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger

NORTH BRUNSWICK — “Rasheed” rolled down the court, stopped at the foul line and launched a shot that banked off the backboard and dropped through the basket, drawing a roar from the crowd.It wasn’t a member of the varsity team making the shot, but a 4-foot-high robot, built by North Brunswick High School’s student robotics team, which last month won an international competition.

The second shot out of Rasheed’s (more about the name later) metal chute missed the basket. Undeterred, senior Mohanish Shinde swiftly worked the remote controls, steering the robot to roll over the high school gymnasium floor, scoop up miniature basketballs and then go back to the foul line and sink four more crowding-pleasing shots.

“It’s broken right now,” Shinde said of the robot. “That’s why we were missing shots.”

He quickly identified a loose gear, a malfunctioning battery and a faulty light that lines up the shot.

“In shipping it from St. Louis, it was messed up,” he said. It was in a competition in St. Louis, Mo., last weekend that the North Brunswick students topped 400 other teams from around the world — some coming from Australia and Israel.

More than 3,400 teams entered the competition, which begins each January. Teams are given a different task each year and then have six weeks to design plans, write a computer program and build a robot to do that task.

“It was really like the real world. You have no time,” said senior Tom Ikus, who led the pit crew and the building crew.

Adding to the difficultly this year, the school lost a major sponsor who had provided a work area for construction of the machine.
robot-north-brunswick-high-school-2.JPGAndrew Mills/The Star-LedgerTommy Ikuss (right) a North Brunswick High School senior, makes some last-second adjustments on their robot before a school-wide pep rally Friday afternoon. This robot won an international robotics competition last weekend in St. Louis.

Tommy Ikuss (right) a North Brunswick High School senior, makes some last-second adjustments on their robot before a school-wide pep rally Friday afternoon. This robot won an international robotics competition last weekend in St. Louis.
-Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger

Students worked late nights in North Brunswick and spent weekends sharing a work area with a school in Pennsylvania.”It’s full-time work. It’s like a varsity sport of the mind,” said Ikus, whose brother, Joseph, a junior, is also on the team.

North Brunswick won national robotics championships in 2000 and last year, but the school team had a slow start this year, with a poor showing at an early competition.

“We weren’t even expected to be in St. Louis,” said Wayne Cokeley, the North Brunswick high school teacher who has coached the robotics team for 17 years.

However, the team got in gear and won state, regional and national competitions, and then went onto international finals, performing well each time.

“We were making 14 out of 15 baskets in 2½ minutes,” Cokeley said. “That’s pretty good.”

Students named this year’s robot Rasheed Wallace after the retired professional basketball player who holds the record for most “technical” fouls.

The Greater Reward

2006 was a wonderful competitive year for Raider Robotix. The team won the NJ and Las Vegas Regionals and had a 31-0 win/loss record going into the Championship Event in Atlanta. We had been awarded the Chairman’s Award in NJ and Cokeley was given the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award. So when we played in Atlanta the team was pumped like no competition before.

Play at Championships was harder but still the team prevailed and we ended up winning the Newton Division with teams 968 and 195. It seemed like our alliance was unbeatable. We battled through the Einstein stage quarterfinals and finally came to face the alliance of 217, 296 and 522. Round 1 of the finals didn’t go well for us. Partner 195 pretty much fell apart on the field and we lost the round 26-53. But the drive team was ready for the second round and we were going to battle back.

In the interim between rounds word got to our alliance that a member of the competitor’s alliance had broken a linkage or something and didn’t have a replacement part. Our alliance had the needed part and we gave it over so they could play. It was no big deal. It was the right thing to do.

In the end fate decreed that we would lose that last round also- a shooting fest where it ended 98-94. We took second for the nation. We did our best and we did what was right.

A few months later the attached letter came to us through the mail.

Sometimes people ask if we would have changed our course of action had we known the final outcome. I would like to believe that we would do it all over again. Sure trophies are nice but peace of mind is the greater reward.

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.