Student News: North Brunswick robotics competition goes medieval

This article originally appeared on myCentralJersey.com, 11:32 a.m. EST November 10, 2016.

On Saturday, Nov.12, Raider Robotix-FRC Team 25 hosts Brunswick Eruption in their 15th off-season robotics competition at the North Brunswick Township High School.

Teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and beyond will be traveling to this event where FIRST Stronghold, the game from the 2016 FIRST robotics season, will be played for the last time by these teams.

Raider Robotix invites the community to attend and learn more about FIRST Robotics and also to bring non-perishable food donations for the local food pantry and gently used shoes for the Raiders’ shoe drive. Admission to this event is free and open to the public. Food and drinks can be purchased at the event as well as souvenir T-shirts.

The doors for the Nov. 12 event will open at 8 a.m.

During the matches, teams will play First Stronghold, according to a news release. This is a medieval-inspired game in which two alliances made up of three robotics teams each will try to capture their opponents’ castle tower by scoring balls, or “boulders,, into openings. Each boulder scored through an upper story window or ground-level goal earns the alliance points and reduces the tower’s strength. If enough boulders are scored, the tower becomes weakened and can be “captured” for bonus points if all three robots surround it at the end of the match.

In addition to scoring boulders, points are earned for driving over or through obstacles placed on the field. In the last 20 seconds of the game, robots may also attempt to climb the opponent’s castle wall for additional points by grabbing a 6.5-foot-tall rung and elevating at least 2 feet off the ground.

During the robotics season, all FIRST events are open to the public and admission for seating is free. For more information on FIRST Robotics, visit http://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc.

The Evil Sundae contest will be held prior to Elimination Matches, and awards to the competing robotics teams will be handed out at the end of the day. To learn more about Brunswick Eruption, visit www.raiderrobotix.org or the Raider Robotix’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BrunswickEruption.

Also during Brunswick Eruption, tickets for a pancake breakfast benefitting [sic] Raider Robotix-FRC Team 25 will be available. The pancake breakfast is being held Sunday, Dec. 11, at Applebee’s in Milltown. For only $10, participants will be served breakfast by a champion from Team 25.

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.

Source

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.

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.

Seeking New Sponsors

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.

Source

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 smwonder@comcast.net. We can also be reached on the web via our official Facebook and Twitter pages.