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Class of 2017
Friday, March 31, 2017

Némésis Aime Montréal

By: Liam O'Toole and Julia Ruch

It’s 19 degrees, amid a swirl of French, English and the palpable exuberance - a Joie de vivre - of Montréal. The Robbinsville FIRST Robotics team Nemesis 2590 is gearing up for Festival De Robitque in Quebec, marking the team’s third visit in ten years. But they’re not alone. Teams from across Canada, France, the United States, and Morocco have gathered here to compete in the FRC 2017 design challenge: FIRST Steamworks.

After six weeks of 15-hour days of CADing, virtually testing, and fabricating parts in-house, Nemesis is proud to introduce Eris: our 2017 competition robot. Fast, adaptable, and capable of picking up game pieces off the floor to score, Eris does it all, embodying the cooperation between students and their guiding mentors: Peter Wolfe, Jeff Keller, Marc Began, John Ruch, Tom Young, and Alex Marincas. A shooter, climber, dual-speed drivetrain, and an innovative dustpan gear intake makes Eris an offensive playing powerhouse. Such versatility earned Nemesis the Industrial Design Award at the Springside-Chestnut Hill District Event.

The pressure and high stakes aren’t limited to the field. Based on the team’s sustainability, fiscal responsibility, professional image, and community service, judges at the Hatboro-Horsham District Event honored Nemesis with the prestigious Entrepreneurship Award. Nemesis runs like a business with six subteams, build, marketing, finance, operations, social media, and software (guided by Peter Barlis, Joy Wolfe, Shilpa Vast, and Karen Young). Nemesis’ social media team documents all of the team’s endeavours through articles and photographs on the team website.

“FIRST Steamworks, inspired by steam power technology from the Industrial Revolution, features two alliances of three robots each. The game starts with a 15 second autonomous period in which robots operate solely through pre-coded instructions. The remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds of each match consists of fierce competition between the alliances in which robots are student driven. Each alliance's goal is to pick up gears and bring them to the airship, an elevated platform located within the field. Teams are also tasked with preparing the airship for takeoff by collecting as much fuel (balls) as possible and shooting it into the boiler (goal). In the last 30 seconds of the match, robots climb onto the airship via a rope, which earns additional points. The alliance with the most points at the end of the match wins! (FIRST Robotics).”

During the high-pressure, pre-programmed autonomous period, Eris swiftly delivers valuable gears to the airships from code written by students Conner Hofenbitzer, John Miranda, and James Aikins, mentored by Jeff Keller, Peter Wolfe and John Ruch. After these 15 seconds, driver Dahany Choi enters the pilot’s seat, racing Eris down the field, avoiding defensive robots, debris, and other game pieces to the pickup station. Here, Aditya Pillai drops gears near Eris, which sweeps them into its dustpan intake. Dahany whips Eris around for the dash back to Niratjot Grewal, stationed at the Airship. Niratjot pulls the gear onto the platform, slams it onto the rotor pegs, and turns the crank to spin the gear train to activate the rotors. In the last 30 seconds, Niratjot drops a rope, which Dahany skillfully maneuvers the robot beneath. Eris’ velcro coated climber grabs the rope, and winds the 120-pound robot up to the top, 6 feet in the air in 4 seconds to score a crucial 50 points.  The drive team is backed up by drive coach Harsha Pavuluri and Nemesis’ crack pit crew -  Charlie D’Amico, Matthew Began, and electrical whizz Mariko McMurtry - prepared to tackle any repair at any given moment. “This has been a phenomenal experience. We have the freedom, yet the responsibility to design and build this world-class robot. I’m proud to be a part of this extremely dedicated team.” said RHS senior Charlie D’Amico.

Exposing themselves to a new culture, the team spent a day exploring the streets of Old Montréal, starting at the beautifully gothic Notre Dame Basilica. Among their adventures, Nemesis happened upon a French cafe, complete with a live pianist to add to the mood. Members visited the modern PHI Center for virtual reality, where they experienced 3D, 360 degree view movies of Jurassic World, Yosmite National Park, and Cirque de Soleil. Nemesis perused the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. “I was part of the 2015 Montreal trip...the culture, the camaraderie and enthusiasm of the other FRC teams, and hospitality are really welcoming,” said team member Emily Marsch. In Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard, laser lights are persistant, and entusiam is contaious amongst the competing teams.

After an action-packed five days and a long bus ride home, FIRST Robotics Team Nemesis 2590 is back home from an incredibly successful and enjoyable competition at the Festival de Robotique in Montreal, Canada. The team secured a wildcard bid to the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis as finalists and were honored with their second Entrepreneurship Award this season for exemplary business strategy, community outreach, and team sustainability.

The competition began on Thursday, March 23rd, with a day of practice matches; it was the ideal opportunity for Nemesis’ scout team to study the competition and identify the best robots. Friday morning’s official opening ceremonies-- delivered with Montreal’s trademark gusto-- preceded a long run of qualification rounds. With 46 competitive robots challenging Nemesis to bring out their best, the rankings fluctuated constantly.

As the returning 2-time champions of the Montreal Festival de Robotique, we hope to qualify for the MAR and FIRST World Championships. Nemesis extends its sincerest gratitudes to Robbinsville High School, NAVAIR, CCL Label, DoDStem, Knowledgement, Nordson, Leidos, the Robbinsville Educator Association, Lockheed Martin, Sharbell Development Corp., the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists, Investors Bank, RAS, the Robbinsville Education Foundation, Triangle Copy, Skylink, Coldwell Banker, Northstar Vets, Princeton Sports and Family Medicine, Designtree, Siemens, SRI, McGraw Hill Financial, as well as all the Friends and Family of Nemesis, for believing in the team and encouraging further STEAM education.

To follow or make a donation to the Robbinsville High School’s robotics team 2590 Nemesis, please visit