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Class of 2017
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Murphy’s Law Debunked: Nemesis Wins Hatboro-Horsham Again!

A swift pass through the portcullis. A goal scored. The screeching of the drive train. The roar of the crowd. Robbinsville’s champion, Daedalus, scores a goal and starts to breach another defense when suddenly, it stops in its tracks. Team members in the stands are shocked. This is the final match of the Hatboro-Horsham District event, after two days of perseverance over countless challenges for the Robbinsville High School FIRST Robotics Team 2590 Nemesis. Narrowly surviving into the quarter-finals, fiercely overcoming the first seeded alliance in the semi-finals, and splitting the first two final matches until this ultimate battle for the crown, the team isn’t prepared to surrender easily. 10 seconds left. Still no activity. The Drive Team is pursuing all options to revitalize the robot. Refreshing the code, resetting the encoders, healing potions, nothing works. 5 seconds. Just as suddenly as its stagnation, Daedalus springs back to life and smoothly drifts onto the batter, earning last-minute points, shaking the gymnasium with applause. Nemesis, along with its alliance partners Captain FRC Team 1218 Vulcan Robotics and FRC Team 5407 Wolfpack, has won the Hatboro-Horsham District Event for the 4th consecutive year. Inconceivable!

FIRST’s game for the 2016 season, Stronghold, basing itself on heavy medieval influences, splits a field in half for each alliance of three teams and features motif-fitting game pieces. Teams breach portcullises, gates, and moats to enter their opponent’s courtyard and launch 10-inch diameter foam balls into either low or high goals to capture the enemy tower and win the match. Alliances earn increased points when scoring a high goal due to its heightened difficulty. Each match starts with a 15-second autonomous period, wherein robots are solely controlled by pre-programmed code rather than remote human operation.

Daedalus, Nemesis’s latest robot, was designed to address as many aspects of Stronghold as possible while retaining a focused plan. Build Team members opted to construct this year’s robot with an offensive strategy in mind.

Grappling with Daedalus’s main feature- its articulating shooter and intake- falling apart after nearly every match, it appeared that everything that could go wrong, went wrong. In an attempt to repair the multitude of small yet collectively destructive problems, the Build Team completely dismantled and reassembled Daedalus in under two hours.

With time running low, Nemesis put Humpty Daedalus back together and out on the field, hoping to recover from the previous losses. The impromptu repair session yielded positive results almost immediately, increasing the point output and number of high goals scored, yet not enough to pick up the distance between Nemesis and the top eight teams who would later become alliance captains. Unfortunately, instead, the team fell from 13th place to 15th place to 22nd place just in time for alliance selection. The team remained optimistic, a sentiment paying off when they were the first pick of the fourth-seeded alliance.

Behind the scenes, the Software Team entered a frenzy from the first match, attempting to reform the glitch-prone code in time for Daedalus’s next showing. During the autonomous period, the robot consistently crossed into the opponent’s courtyard successfully under the low bar obstacle, but failed to score with similar consistency. Upon resolving one problem, another promptly appeared in the ensuing match. However, much like the Build Team, Nemesis’ Software Team executed a complete overhaul of the code. By quarter-finals, within the autonomous period, Daedalus not only swept the enemy defenses, but also scored the coveted and punishing high goal, effectively laying the groundwork for the Drive Team’s triumphs later in each match. The revised code played an essential role in establishing a strong point lead over opponents early.

Although the Build and Software Teams may have experienced a much more exhilarating event, the business side of Nemesis did not walk away empty-handed. The team’s Chief Financial Officer Colin Riley became a Dean’s List Finalist, recognizing his efforts in exemplifying the core values of FIRST and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). Additionally, the team was honored with the Quality Award, recognizing their robust robot design and construction. 

Few times in Nemesis’s admittedly short history have there been such an emotional rollercoaster as this past weekend at the annual FIRST Mid-Atlantic Hatboro-Horsham District Event. A story befitting the medieval legends its central game was based on, Nemesis rose to the challenge and overcame considerable obstacles on and off the field, despite facing difficulty at nearly every turn. While it seemed that every facet of the event possible of going wrong did, in fact go wrong, Nemesis and its alliance partners stuck the battle out to its victorious end.

Next, Nemesis will be competing at the Seneca District Event on March 19-20th. Nemesis would like to thank their sponsors: Robbinsville Board of Education, NAVAIR, Bristol-Myers Squibb, CCL Label, NY Society of Cosmetic Chemists, Siemens, Lockheed Martin, Investors Bank, RAS, Robbinsville Education Association, EAG, Princeton Sports & Family Medicine, McGraw-Hill Financials, Robbinsville Education Foundation, Gilbane, Coldwell Banker, Carfaro Fencing, DesignTree, Triangle Copy, & GrabCad. For additional information please  contact Team Advisor Joy Wolfe at