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.

Cokeley Interviewed!

Recently, Mr. Cokeley was interviewed for the school paper, The Banner. Below is the article featured in the paper.

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Mr. Cokeley: Miles Away from Home
By Lana Li

Mr. Cokeley always yearns to go home.

He began exploring different ecosystems decades ago and the hobby has developed into a passion and lifelong pursuit. He has traveled to all of the states as well as dozens of places around the world.

But there is only one place to which Cokeley feels he belongs.
“I feel at home in the jungle,” he said. “The wilderness provides a very new and different feeling.”

Because of its warmth and high biotic diversity, the rainforest tops Cokeley’s list of favorite ecosystems. Cokeley started camping and traveling when he was a little kid. He became interested in traveling in his teens.

“I was into nature and understanding it,” said Cokeley. “I found that many biological connections cross over into all aspects of life.”

It was college, however, that determined the path of his life. In courses like zoology and ecology, Cokeley found that he absorbed information not because he wanted to maintain his GPA but because he was fascinated by his studies.

He realized that he never wanted this fascination to fade. He decided to become a high school biology teacher so that he could encourage the same enthusiasm in his students and so that he would be able to spend the long summer breaks traveling to very different places of the world.

“I grew up in Middlesex County, New Jersey,” Cokeley said. “All these trips are an opportunity to see and learn something new every time. You get to see a whole new way of what people believe.”

Teachers also receive lots of research grant opportunities. Cokeley has never been turned down from a grant. He believes that it is because in his applications, he always says that in addition to his experience and willingness to help research, he can repair a broken car. He has received generous grants from the Earthwatch Institute, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

In many of the communities he has visited abroad, people lived entirely different lifestyles. Many places had limited water and no hot water or air conditioning, let alone the latest technological and scientific equipment.

“People [scientists] do amazing things with limited resources,” said Cokeley.

To help out the local people, Cokeley likes to bring school supplies, clothing and soccer balls with him on his trips.

“It means a lot more to them than it does to us,” he said.
Oftentimes, a partnership formed between the village people and researchers. The scientists would persuade the local people to become more involved in conservation and in making the wildlife valuable to them.

Cokeley has studied the effects of Grevy zebra herds on vegetation, examined bees in Brazil, conducted a statistical analysis on rubber tree seeds and has worked long days in the middle of nowhere.

“A lot of people haven’t seen the things I’ve seen,” he said.

Over the summer, Cokeley drove to Montana and Wyoming from New Jersey to dig up fossils. He found fossils of sea life and dinosaur bones and submitted them to the Trenton State Museum.

Digging fossils brings back warm memories for Cokeley, as some of his first dates with Mrs. Cokeley were spent collecting them.

Although Mrs. Cokeley does not share the same passion as her husband, she always supports Mr. Cokeley’s journeys and endeavors.

“My wife’s happy to see me go every time,” joked Cokeley. On a more serious note, he added, “She knows I need to do it because it keeps me sane.”

Cokeley believes that everyone needs a home away from home. For him, it’s the wilderness. Perhaps the best part about calling the jungle home is that Cokeley can find the same comfort in multiple places; there are about 700 jungles in the world.

“When he talks about his travels around the world, he gives me so much inspiration,” said Harsha Seelam ’12, one of Cokeley’s AP Biology students. “He seems so full of experience and wisdom that you can’t help but admire him.”

“Students get all starry-eyed when I tell them these stories, but you guys can do the same thing,” said Cokeley. “It’s an amazing place out there.”

Though Cokeley will not be returning home to a jungle for a while, he will always crave the wet soil, humidity and rich wildlife of the rainforest. Sometimes, he even misses the mosquito bites.

It’s the strangest places we call home.

Tommy Ikuss featured in NBTHS Paper

Recently, The Banner, the school paper, featured Tommy Ikuss in one of its articles. Below, is the article about Pit Crew Captain Ikuss.

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Tommy Ikuss: Robotix Pit Crew Captain to Engineer
By Julia DeCicco

Technologically savvy, Tommy Ikuss aspires to be an engineer once he graduates NBTHS.

With talents that extend far beyond the classroom, Ikuss exhibits a multitude of strengths.

“I really like to spread my wings and do as many things as possible, and although this is a good thing, it is difficult being constantly busy and always running around,” said Ikuss.

Outside of the classroom, Ikuss excels as the pit crew captain of Robotix and is responsible for building the team’s robot and then maintaining it during competitions. As pit crew captain, Ikuss has been able to cultivate his interests in science and engineering while simultaneously having fun.

“Not only have I learned so much about science and engineering, but I have also met so many interesting people and have gone to so many cool places like Atlanta, St. Louis and Las Vegas.”

In addition to participating in Robotix, Ikuss is a student-athlete. He is a member of the cross-country and volleyball teams. Of all his extracurricular interests, he finds his position as a youth leader for Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen Change Campaign one of the most gratifying.

“We essentially work to raise money for Elijah’s Promise Food Bank,” he said.

Maintaining above a 4.35 GPA all throughout high school, Ikuss has had to work hard. Although he has always managed to excel academically, he admits that high school has not been easy.

“Time management and staying on top of my schoolwork and all my extracurricular activities has been really challenging at times,” Ikuss said.

Despite the rigor of his academic schedule, he has always managed to have fun. In his spare time, he exercises, hangs out with friends, plays viola and reads.

Ikuss has many fond memories of high school, including the German exchange program. He describes it as the best time of his life.

“I met so many cool people in Germany, got to experience German culture firsthand and got to see and do so many cool things, from medieval castles to Berlin.”

Academically speaking, he has enjoyed Mr. Beaumont’s AP English Language and Composition course the most in high school.

“It was very intensive but I learned so much, and I am so much better off having taken it,” he said.

Ikuss plans on applying to many schools, all of which excel in the sciences because he is certain that he wants to pursue a career in engineering. He is not sure which engineering discipline he wants to study yet.

“I want to make a difference as an engineer and I really hope that once I get out into the working world, I can turn my hard work and dedication towards a meaningful project.”

Mr. Cokeley: Miles away from home

Written by Lana Li, Editor in Chief, The Banner. Previously published in the September/October 2011 issue of The Banner. Raider Robotix enslaves Mr. Cokeley as Head Coach.

Mr. Cokeley always yearns to go home.

He began exploring different ecosystems decades ago and the hobby has developed into a passion and lifelong pursuit. He has traveled to all of the states as well as dozens of places around the world.

But there is only one place to which Cokeley feels he belongs.

“I feel at home in the jungle,” he said. “The wilderness provides a very new and different feeling.”

Because of its warmth and high biotic diversity, the rainforest tops Cokeley’s list of favorite ecosystems.

Cokeley started camping and traveling when he was a little kid. He became interested in traveling in his teens.

“I was into nature and understanding it,” said Cokeley. “I found that many biological connections cross over into all aspects of life.”

Cokeley in Costa Rica. Click to enlarge.

Mr. Cokeley inspects a boa constrictor in the La Selva field station in Costa Rica. Photo courtesy of Wayne Cokeley.

It was college, however, that determined the path of his life. In courses like zoologyand ecology, Cokeley found that he absorbed information not because he wanted to maintain his GPA but because he was fascinated by his studies.

He realized that he never wanted this fascination to fade. He decided to become a high school biology teacher so that he could encourage the same enthusiasm in his students and so that he would be able to spend the long summer breaks traveling to very different places of the world.

“I grew up in Middlesex County, New Jersey,” Cokeley said. “All these trips are an opportunity to see and learn something new every time. You get to see a whole new way of what people believe.”

Teachers also receive lots of research grant opportunities. Cokeley has never been turned down from a grant. He believes that it is because in his applications, he always says that in addition to his experience and willingness to help research, he can repair a broken car. He has received generous grants from the Earthwatch Institute, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

In many of the communities he has visited abroad, people lived entirely different lifestyles. Many places had limited water and no hot water or air conditioning, let alone the latest technological and scientific equipment.

“People [scientists] do amazing things with limited resources,” said Cokeley.

To help out the local people, Cokeley likes to bring school supplies, clothing and soccer balls with him on his trips.

“It means a lot more to them than it does to us,” he said. Oftentimes, a partnership formed between the village people and researchers. The scientists would persuade the local people to become more involved in conservation and in making the wildlife valuable to them.

Cokeley has studied the effects of Grevy zebra herds on vegetation, examined bees in Brazil, conducted a statistical analysis on rubber tree seeds and has worked long days in the middle of nowhere.

“A lot of people haven’t seen the things I’ve seen,” he said.

Over the summer, Cokeley drove to Montana and Wyoming from New Jersey to dig up fossils. He found fossils of sea life and dinosaur bones and submitted them to the Trenton State Museum.

Digging fossils brings back warm memories for Cokeley, as some of his first dates with Mrs. Cokeley were spent collecting them.

Although Mrs. Cokeley does not share the same passion as her husband, she always supports Mr. Cokeley’s journeys and endeavors.

“My wife’s happy to see me go every time,” joked Cokeley. On a more serious note, he added, “She knows I need to do it because it keeps me sane.”

Cokeley believes that everyone needs a home away from home. For him, it’s the wilderness. Perhaps the best part about calling the jungle home is that Cokeley can find the same comfort in multiple places; there are about 700 jungles in the world.

“When he talks about his travels around the world, he gives me so much inspiration,” said Harsha Seelam ’12, one of Cokeley’s AP Biology students. “He seems so full of experience and wisdom that you can’t help but admire him.”

“Students get all starry-eyed when I tell them these stories, but you guys can do the same thing,” said Cokeley. “It’s an amazing place out there.”

Though Cokeley will not be returning home to a jungle for a while, he will always crave the wet soil, humidity and rich wildlife of the rainforest. Sometimes, he even misses the mosquito bites.

It’s the strangest places we call home.

ROBOTIX

The Raider Robotix team is made of much more than a large group of kids who spend some time together putting together hunks of metal to ship off for competitions. We’re a team of dedicated students who spend long hours working together to build an award-winning robot every year. Each year, we are given only six weeks to design, build and program a robot to compete. Projects vary from robot soccer to hanging inflatable tubes on a 10-foot rack. Out of over 2,000 teams from all over the world, we made it to the semifinals in St. Louis and placed third last year. Our team is looking for fresh minds to keep our team fun and strong.

Originally published in the September/October 2011 edition of The Banner.

Presentation on “FIRST” Robotics

You are invited to:

Presentation on “FIRST” Robotics

FOR INSPIRATION AND RECOGNITION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Presentation on FIRST Robotics lead by Donald Bowers, FIRST Regional Director for Delaware, New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania and Wayne Cokeley, the lead teacher-coach of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams at North Brunswick HS. There are over 2000 FRC teams in the US and the North Brunswick FRC team – Raider Robotix is one of the oldest and longest running in the United States. The presentation will include an overview of the four FIRST Robotics programs and demonstrations of an FRC and an FTC robot by Raider Robotix.

FIRST hopes to excite the members and friends of ISA and IEEE about their programs and recruit interested members to be FIRST volunteers and catch the “FIRST FEVER”

Date: October, 27 2011
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm – networking, food and refreshments
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm – presentation

Location: DeVry U., North Brunswick – Room: 2020

Space is limited; please confirm your attendance to: Alex Habib at: alex-habib@msn.com