Kickoff: A Freshman Perspective
When I walked into the Montgomery High School on Saturday January 7th for the FIRST Robotic Competition 2017 Kickoff, I was both nervous and excited. I couldn't wait to find out what my life was going to be dedicated to for the upcoming season. It was thrilling to see how they presented the game. The anticipation was heavy as we waited for the other teams to arrive. We split into different groups to go to workshops. I chose Gearboxes and Drive Trains. It was nice to have a refresher for parts of the robot. Following the workshop, everyone went to see the game reveal. It was exciting seeing the different videos of the teams but the best part was finally knowing what the 2017 game was. Overall, it was really fun and everyone was incredibly welcoming.
Full Steam Ahead: Nemesis FLIES Into 2017!
Even the threat of a winter storm could not deter them. On January 7th 2017, thousands of FIRST Robotics teams around the world held their breath as they anxiously awaited the release of the 2017 game. Each year at Kickoff, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) provides these high school robotics students with a new challenge to hone their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills at competitive regional, district-wide, and international events. The Kickoff marks the beginning of 6 hectic weeks to design, prototype, and build a robot to effectively address the game challenge.
On the frigid Saturday morning, robotics teams from high schools in North Brunswick, Bridgewater-Raritan, Ewing, West Windsor-Plainsboro, and Allentown joined Robbinsville's Nemesis Team 2590 at Montgomery High School for the Kickoff of the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season.
Before the game reveal, students were able to attend a multitude of workshops hosted by Montgomery High School's own robotics team, Cougar Robotics. Providing instruction in a variety of subjects such as gearboxes, pneumatics, sensors, and Autodesk Inventor (a CAD - Computer Aided Design - program), the workshops served as an efficient way to assist students in learning some concepts that would benefit them in the upcoming build season.
"The gearbox workshop was extremely insightful," commented Robbinsville sophomore, Morgan Serra. "It especially helps new robotics members like myself to understand this topic before we begin to brainstorm. Without this workshop I would've been totally confused throughout build season!"
Excitement buzzed through the air as teams gathered in the auditorium and waited for the NASA-TV webcast to start, live from FIRST Headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire. As the game was revealed, the applause was deafening. Introducing the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition challenge... FIRST Steamworks!
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 driven by student drivers. Each alliance's goal is to prepare their airship for takeoff by collecting as much fuel (balls) as possible and shooting it into the boiler (goals). They must also deliver gears to the pilots (human players) on their airship in the middle of the field who will install them in order to start the engines. In the last 30 seconds of the match, robots can latch onto the airship by climbing a thick rope, which earns them additional points. The alliance with the most points at the end of the match wins!
Feeling adrenalized after the game reveal, Nemesis members are already overflowing with ideas on how to design this year's robot.
“This is definitely much different from last year, especially with a drive team member on the field for the first time in FIRST Robotics history,” remarked senior and Build Executive Harsha Pavuluri. “With the many aspects of the game, I can’t wait to hear what the team comes up with!”
Nemesis will be competing at Hatboro-Horsham High School on March 4-5th, at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy on March 18-19th, and at the Festival de Robotique in Montreal, Canada on March 23-25th. Nemesis hopes to qualify for the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship at Lehigh University and the FIRST Championship in St. Louis.
Nemesis would like to thank their sponsors for their continued success: Robbinsville High School, NAVAIR, CCL Label, New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Nordson, Robbinsville Education Association, Leidos, Triangle East Windsor, Skylink Technology Inc., Northstar Vets, RAS Process Equipment, Designtree, EAG, Princeton Sports and Family Medicine, Robbinsville Education Foundation, Lockheed Martin, SRI International, McGraw Hill Financial, Siemens, and Investors Bank.
2017 Week 1: Build Journal
It’s finally here! Planning, prototyping and long hours in the tech lab, all accented the first week of the Build Season. Starting at kickoff, we became more familiar with the objectives of our robot and what we needed to succeed in this year’s game, FIRST STEAMWORKS! Knowing that this year our robot would have to climb a rope, collect and deliver gears, be able to shoot fuel into the boilers, as well as collect fuel from the input, our analysis meeting brainstormed several brilliant strategies. We broke up into subteams, and began prototyping many different features in order to make this year’s robot the best it could possibly be.
Here’s a quick re-cap of this week's progress made by each subteam:
The subteam working with the challenge of the gears, were able to create a path that would catch the gear and have considered multiple ways of getting it onto the spring. Over the week they have tried several variations of these parts in order to improve the success rate.
The climbing subteam worked on two prototypes this week. Both prototypes were able to lift 110 pounds in a short amount of time. Only time will decide which version will work best with our robot design.
The sub team for the hopper worked on procuring fuel from the input.. They were able to create various prototypes this week. They tried out many designs to see which one would be the best at accomplishing the task.
The sub team for the shooter was able to create many prototypes to see which one would work best in the game. Most of the prototypes were able to shoot a long horizontal and vertical distance at a very quick speed. One of the prototypes was able to shoot the fuel at a quicker rate.
With every subteam working diligently on various parts of the robot, it would be truly rewarding to see it eventually be cohesively integrated into the finished product!
Lots and lots of prototyping still happening. Nothing definite yet, but soon! Little by little its all coming together. We can’t wait to see what week 2 brings!
2017 Week 1: Marketing Journal
After an exciting kickoff, the Marketing Team is busy preparing for Sponsor Networking Night. The rough draft for the slideshow and oral presentations are almost complete. Invitations have been sealed and sent. The Nemesis showcase is currently being updated with new pictures and information. Everyone is focused on putting the event together and excited to present their accomplishments from the 2016 season.
The Finance Team is currently writing emails and grants to reach out to potential sponsors, as well as booking dates to discuss fundraising. Logistics is working on planning trips for the upcoming season. With Week 1 coming to a close, the entire marketing team is looking forward to seeing what exciting things Week 2 will bring!
Nemesis 2590 Library Demonstration 2016
Energetic young children and their eager parents gathered at the Robbinsville Public Library for a visit from Nemesis. On November 5, 2016 Nemesis team members gave a demonstration of their award-winning 2016 competition robot, Daedalus. Awestruck and amazed, the young children watched as Daedalus shot boulders into totes and moved effortlessly, gliding across the room.
The young attendees and their parents became intrigued with the world of FIRST Robotics. The demonstration began with a brief description of the 2016 game, FIRST Stronghold, a medieval game of Capture The Castle. Later, an explanation of how Daedalus functions, and a visit from our NAO robot enchanted the children. After seeing Daedalus in action, the attendees could not believe that a high school team made such an impressive robot in such a short amount of time.
During the presentation, the children had the opportunity to act as Daedalus–going over and under obstacles and even “storming the castle” by shooting balls into a tote. Nemesis members were often asked questions about their robot and how FIRST changed their lives. One mother of a five year old boy expressed her gratitude to the team, saying, “You have no idea how much he loves robotics and coding. Seeing teenagers doing what he wants to do when he gets older makes him feel like he can do anything.” Her comment showed the team how much of an influence STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education has on the elementary school students, and how programs like FIRST Robotics can make going into a STEAM field a dream for many.
After watching the demonstration, many of the parents asked how they could get their children involved in robotics and start up their own team for younger students. Luckily, Nemesis has had their annual Discovery Day on December 3th and 4th where students from second to sixth grade have the opportunity to build and program Lego Mindstorms to complete open ended challenges. There, local FIRST Lego League teams will be on hand to answer any questions they have.
Everyone left the event proclaiming how much fun they had learning about the exciting world of FIRST. Nemesis would like to thank the Robbinsville Public Library, and especially Michelle Cromwell, for the opportunity to expose share their love of robots with the community.
Nemesis Explores Innovation at Tom's River Makerfest
On October 15th, 2016, Robbinsville High School’s FIRST Robotics team took innovation head-on for the second year in a row. Held at Toms River High School North, New Jersey Makerfest went off without a hitch. Innovators from across the state came together to show what exciting creations they had to offer to the world, and Nemesis was no exception. As a team we came together to showcase our 2014, 2016, and NAO robots, and speak about the incredible world of FIRST Robotics.
The attendees were enthralled with all our team had accomplished, and at such a young age too! Children that gathered around our station became infatuated with our high-performing robots that shoot balls from great lengths, drive at high speeds, and dance to a steady beat.
The NAO robot in particular drew the masses with its choreographed Tai-Chi routine, and was able to to keep them fixated while it danced the Macarena, as well as the crowd-pleasing Disco. One group who was particularly enamored with the wonders that this tiny robot could accomplish came from a school for low-functioning, special-needs children. After speaking to one of our members, they were convinced that implementing a humanoid robot in their school could open a whole new world of wonders for their students, as well as act as a new therapeutic method for their school’s learners.
Nemesis is honored to see all the hard work our students have put into our everyday tools finally make a serious impact on the lives of others.
Nemesis Honored at the New Jersey State House
On Monday, December 1st, Robbinsville High School FIRST Robotics Team 2590 Nemesis visited the New Jersey State House in Trenton, as Senator Linda Greenstein, Assemblyman Daniel Benson, and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo honored the team with a Joint Legislative Resolution.
Team 2590 received recognition for its successful 2014 season concluding with a semifinalist finish at the FIRST World Championships held in St .Louis, Missouri. In addition, Nemesis was one of four teams awarded the Entrepreneurship Award at the international level to acknowledge the team’s extensive business plan. Nemesis received commendation on the state senate floor for its continuous efforts in spreading the STEM message, promoting community involvement, and maintaining strong relationships with the school, students, mentors, and New Jersey state government.
Nemesis represented the fourteenth district of New Jersey alongside other Mercer County FIRST Robotics teams participating at the World Championships, including Mercury 1089 from Hightstown High School, Zero Gravity from Steinert High School, Flux Core from Nottingham High School, the Hornets from Hamilton High School West and the MidKnight Inventors from West Windsor-Plainsboro High Schools North and South.
While a group of Nemesis team members and jubilant parents spectated from the balcony of the State House, 2014 alumni Joshua Falk, Antonio Papa, and Baljot Ranu stood with mentor Joy Wolfe on the floor to accept the award on behalf of the team. Chief Executive Officer Arnav Vast stated, “I felt proud as I watched our alumni receive this award, as we were being recognized for all of our hard work and long hours we put into building the robot.”
Nemesis presented both its 2014 robot Bellerophon and its NAO robot; the attentive senators eagerly listened as students recounted their experiences at St. Louis and elaborated on their success over the years. Junior Christian Gavalchin of the Nemesis build team exclaimed “it was a wonderful opportunity for the senators to interact with the team and the robot.”
Grateful for the opportunity to present before the New Jersey state government and receive the Joint Legislative Resolution, Nemesis hopes to continue communicating with the government and further develop its relationships with Senator Greenstein, Assemblyman Benson, and Assemblyman DeAngelo to promote recognition of STEM.
Nemesis Victorious at 13th Annual Brunswick Eruption
Nemesis 2590 was visibly brimming with energy and excitement as they entered North Brunswick Township High School on Saturday, November 8th for Brunswick Eruption. Nemesis joined 41 teams from Virginia to Canada to compete in the lucky number 13th year of Brunswick Eruption.
Aerial Assist provided a brilliant challenge for Nemesis in the 2014 season, when the team strategically designed a highly dynamic and robust robot that emerged from the World Championships in St. Louis as one of the top four alliance captains of the 4,000 teams worldwide. As Nemesis entered the event on Saturday, they were looking to continue their hot-streak from last year.
This was the chance for the new members, as well as a rookie drive team, to get accustomed to the upcoming competition season. Arnav Vast, the Chief Executive Officer of the team and coach of the drive team said, “I was impressed with the significant improvement that Christian, the new driver, displayed throughout the event.” Despite the tough challenges faced by Nemesis, they persevered, and were able to emerge from qualification matches as the second seed. Using their comprehensive scouting data, Nemesis formed Alliance 1 with first seed Tigertrons 222 (Pennsylvania), Sprockets 1075 (Ontario), and The Robotic Plague 375 (New York).
Elimination matches proved difficult yet prosperous for Nemesis and their allies. Nevertheless, Alliance 1 achieved the highest score for Brunswick Eruption at 251 points. Finally whittling down to finals, Alliance 1 faced Alliance 3 S.P.I.K.E. 293 (Pennington), Roxbotix 4361 (Succasunna), The Gearheads 102 (Somerville), and Aperture 3142 (Newton).
Things looked bleak for Alliance 1 after their early loss in the first round of the finals. However, the boisterous cheering of all Nemesis’s fans propelled the drive team to victory! Upon the completion of this event, Christian Gavalchin, a Junior on the drive team, said he felt “Proud to uphold the legacy of Nemesis”. After this promising show, Nemesis’s 2015 competition season is looking bright!
Nemesis participates in Citibank Global Technology Expo
Technological innovations, advancements, and developments took center-stage at the Citibank Global Technology Expo held on Tuesday, September 16. Team FRC 2590 Nemesis from Robbinsville High School attended the event fully prepared to submerge themselves in the engrossing realm of technology and its applications in the real world. The team greeted the opportunity to speak to one of their most generous sponsors with utmost excitement. On the morning of the event, a group of Nemesis team members including seniors Harrison Young and Jim Harris, juniors Samantha Young and Christian Gavalchin, and Nemesis alumnus Jenna Mollica drove to Warren, New Jersey to spend the day demonstrating and presenting the team’s 2014 robot. With the robot safely towed away and the presentation board ready to go, the students prepared for an exhilarating day of technology exchange.
Upon arrival, Nemesis worked along with team FRC 41 Robowarriors from Watchung Regional High School in Warren, NJ. The two teams collaborated to produce an intriguing and enjoyable presentation of FIRST robotics for the onlooking Citibank employees. They impressed hundreds of Citibank’s workers with their technological expertise through demonstrations of robot mechanics, cooperation, and teamwork.
The employees were fascinated by Nemesis’ robot. They were equally captivated by the students’ presentation of the team’s engineering and business knowledge that resulted in their recent successes at the World Championships. The students enthusiastically answered a variety of questions related to everything from the team’s structure and functionality to robotics and entrepreneurship.
Of his experience, Jim Harris said, “It’s great that our sponsor Citibank had us there to show our appreciation for their gracious support”. The entire team was grateful for the opportunity to not only exhibit their successes to their sponsor, but to also explore and immerse themselves in the forthcoming technological innovations spearheaded by Citibank.
After school, the rest of the team arrived to explore the expo and communicate with Citibank’s vendors. They were treated to compelling presentations involving developments in technology intended to improve the experiences of Citibank’s clients and employees in long-distance communication, travel, and financial management. Samantha Young shared, “Attending the Citibank Technology Expo gave Nemesis the opportunity to explore the up-and-coming technology being used in the business world”. The students left the expo enlightened and informed, and look forward to similar experiences in the future. Nemesis always appreciates any opportunity to further their knowledge of technology and its application in the real world.
Nemesis Honored at Board of Ed Meeting
The Robbinsville school district’s Board of Education was impressed with the presentation that Nemesis gave during May 27, 2014's board meeting. Josh Falk, current CEO of Nemesis, recited each competition and award they had received in their best season yet. CBO Baljot Ranu, CTO Julia Borowski, and Arnav Vast presented their accomplishments in terms of giving back to the community, which include, charity walks, fundraisers, and spreading the STEM message to younger students through their annual Discovery Day event.
The Superintendent, Dr. Mayer, voiced his amazement after the presentation by stating how beneficial Nemesis is to Robbinsville and how they are promoting the town in a positive way. He also expressed how difficult it could be to follow such a great season and how he hopes the team succeeds in years to come.
To conclude the night, Nemesis’ seniors were asked to share with the Board of Education which college they would be attending in the fall and what their majors will be.
Congratulations to Nemesis and their fantastic season and its seniors!
Monty Madness Introduces New Drivers
FIRST Robotics Team Nemesis 2590 arrived at Monty Madness, ready to compete with their robot Bellerophon. Forty-two different teams all from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware gathered at Montgomery High School on Saturday, May 17, 2014.
This year’s game is Aerial Assist, where robots shoot a 2 foot yoga ball into a high or low goal in order to earn points. Teams can also acquire points through assists, with a ten point bonus per assist. Monty Madness is split into two rounds of competition: The qualification rounds and the elimination rounds. The qualification rounds determine where each team will be seeded, while the elimination rounds consist of three matches between two alliances, and the first team to win two matches wins that round.
Bellerophon performed brilliantly in the qualification rounds, placing 1st with a magnificent 6-0 record. The success can be ascribed to Nemesis’ rookie drivers, Harrison Young (junior), Arnav Vast (junior), and Christian Gavalchin (sophomore). The operators, Arnav Vast (junior) and Jim Harris (junior) adjusted the shooting angle and power of the robot. During different matches, Sammi Young (sophomore), Karla Dimatulac (senior) and Baljot Ranu (senior) all had the opportunity to be the human player by catching the game ball and returning it to the robot. Josh Falk (senior) did a superb job of teaching these new drivers the ropes when it came to operating a robot and he developed the game strategy. The future for Nemesis is looking bright, even with the impending absence of many executive team members next year.
With the qualification round of the competition coming to a close, Nemesis seeded first of all 42 teams, and invited teams 341, 694, and 4954 to join the alliances; all of whom graciously accepted.
With a first-class alliance, unmatched determination, and a rambunctious fan section, Nemesis entered the elimination round with aspirations for victory.
Team 2590 started the round off well, emerging victorious from their first match. “The first elimination match was an easy win, but by the second match they learned how to play defense on us. The scoring was quickly reduced and turned into a pushing match.” said sophomore driver Christian Gavalchin. Team 2590 could not retrieve another victory and finished in the quarterfinals.
The offseason event gave the upcoming team a chance to lead the competition. One thing is for sure: The horizons of Nemesis’s potential are limitless. “Next season, it will be challenging without all of the seniors except we are prepared to continue because we learned a lot from them.” Arnav Vast (junior) said.
Archimedes Division Winners & Einstein Semifinalist at World Champs
As FIRST Robotics Team 2590 Nemesis boarded a plane headed for St. Louis, Missouri in the early hours of April 23rd, they knew they had something to prove. A relatively new and unheard of team outside the Mid Atlantic Robotics (MAR) area, the last 3 seasons had been a whirlwind for Nemesis, coming into their own and earning a reputation as a powerhouse team. Despite being the Hatboro-Horsham District Winners and the MAR Champions, St. Louis would be a competition unlike any other they had attended in the 2014 season.
Since 2011, the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis had been home to the FIRST World Championships. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 to introduce and inspire a love of STEM (science, technology, math, and science) in young people across the world. Each year, teams from across the world travel to compete in this “Varsity Sport of the Mind.”
Every January, FIRST gives teams 6 weeks to build their own robot to complete that year’s announced challenge. Aerial Assist, this year’s game, is played 3 versus 3, the objective being to place a ball into a floor goal or to shoot for the high-scoring goal. An emphasis is placed on cooperation, with 10 points added to an alliance’s score for each assist.
At the World Championship, 400 teams from countries all over the globe, including Brazil, China, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the UK, were invited to compete for the title of 2014 World Champion. The teams would be randomly assigned to one of four divisions (Archimedes, Curie, Galileo, or Newton), where each team would play 10 qualification matches based on a randomly generated schedule. At the end of Qualifications, the top 8 seeded teams would pick their own alliance to advance through the bracket-style Elimination Rounds. The winner of each division would go on to compete at the Einstein Division to determine the champion.
For the third year running, Team Nemesis was placed in the Archimedes Division, where competition was stiff. Stacked against several reverenced teams, Nemesis was unsure how they would fair. But they came with determined to defy the odds.
Bellerophon, Nemesis’ 2014 creation, was designed by team members using CAD software, and then constructed using the student’s specifications. Sporting a claw and a spring-powered linear punch shooter, Bellerophon was designed to swiftly grab balls and launch them into the high-scoring goal.
Starting on Thursday, April 24th, thousands began pouring into the venue, as FIRST was hosting not only the FIRST Robotics Competition, but the FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Lego League as well, along with their junior league. The Pit Area was soon milling with students and their robots, with over 650 teams from all age groups filling the venue.
Nemesis’ first 2 matches presented no troubles, and the team easily scored a victory. The high caliber of competition became clear in the next 2, however, and the team was left with a 2-2 record. Hope fading of claiming one of the top 8 spots, the team continued to fight for their victories, knowing they could very well still be picked to head into Elimination Rounds. The team won their last match of the day and powered through each of the 4 Friday matches with a victory.
Friday wasn’t only a big day for Bellerophon, however. The “Big Guns” of the Marketing and Finance Teams, Ally Drake, Anthony Heulitt, and Baljot Ranu, presented their Business Plan to the judges, outlining the team structure, explaining their SWOT analysis, sharing the team’s exemplary community outreach, and offering a breakdown of the team’s budget and finances.
The onset of Saturday renewed the team’s anticipation, and it only grew as the team won their final Qualification Match, ending with an impressive 8-2 record, clinching 7th seed and a spot as an alliance captain in the finals. It became clear just how intense the Elimination Rounds would be when two of the top teams joined forces. Sensing the mounting challenge, the 4th seeded team requested to partner with Nemesis. The team then had a choice: join an alliance or create their own. Confident in their abilities, Nemesis declined, asking Team 1625 Winnovation from Winnebago, IL and Team 1477 Texas Torque from Woodlands, TX to form an alliance. As a fourth, alternate robot, Nemesis selected Team 3467 Windham Windup Robotics from Windham, NH.
Ironically enough, Nemesis faced the team it had turned down in the quarterfinals. The first match went without a hitch, but the second was a close call-- 232-231. Hearts sank when the team lost its first semifinals match, but the cheering came back in force when Nemesis turned things around and won the remaining matches.
Now in the finals of their division, Nemesis had come farther than the team ever had, only ever advancing to the division quarterfinals. And after two matches, the alliances found themselves tied at 1-1. As the field was reset, team members knew it was now or never. Nemesis would win the division and advance to Einstein or all would be over. As the bell rang and the match started, team members watched as the alliances stayed neck and neck. With a minute to go, Nemesis suddenly pulled into the lead, one goal ahead of their opponents. The match seemed a sure win until, in the last 10 seconds, the opponent’s score jumped, eclipsing that of Nemesis.
The audience waited as the referees deliberated as the team wondered what had happened. Were foul points awarded to the alliance? How had the score gone up so quickly? For 5 interminable minutes, Nemesis anxiously anticipated the official score, when suddenly the head referee had an announcement.
“After reviewing, we have determined it was a clean match. The following is the official score.”
All heads turned toward the screen to see 285-273 in favor of Nemesis. Cheering erupted around the stands as Nemesis celebrated their victory with their alliance partners. At the Awards Ceremony held shortly after, the teams were declared the Archimedes Champions. Nemesis was also presented the Entrepreneurship Award for their comprehensive Business Plan.
“In my past four years on the team, I’ve been lucky enough to win awards for our business teams alongside experienced upperclassmen at district and regional events. Winning at the World Championship brought a deeper meaning to my work, as I was compared to other students at a global level. In the end, alongside my friends and teammates Anthony Heulitt and Ally Drake, we were able to win the Entrepreneurship Award out of 100 other teams,” explained Baljot Ranu, Chief Business Officer.
The day wasn’t over, however, and Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, had a surprise for the audience as the 4 winning alliances set up on the Einstein field. Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas, a strong supporter of FIRST and frequent guest at the World Champs, gave a performace to conclude the Closing Ceremonies, as well as former X-Factor contestant Rachel Crow.
Although they put in a solid performance, Nemesis’ journey came to an end on Einstein. The team finshed as semifinalist overall, officially putting Team 2590 on the map as one of the foremost teams in the world.
“I don’t think any of us expected to advance as far as we did, but I couldn’t think of a better way to end my four years with Nemesis,” said CEO and driver Josh Falk.
Nemesis Crowned MAR Champions
Last weekend Robbinsville’s FIRST Robotics Team 2590 Nemesis added another win to their season with their victory at the Mid Atlantic Robotics (MAR) Championships.
Lehigh University’s Stabler Arena, a venue typically filled with the sounds of bouncing basketballs and squeaking sneakers, instead rang with shouts “Robot coming through!” and the noise of power tools as 55 teams set to work in their designated pit areas. Thursday April 10th marked the beginning of the MAR Championships, and teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware who had qualified to compete spent the day preparing for the Friday start of Qualification Matches.
Every January, the organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) announces a new challenge for teams around the world to complete with their very own robot. This year’s game, Aerial Assist, is played 3 versus 3, the objective being to place a ball into a floor goal or to shoot for the high-scoring goal. An emphasis is placed on cooperation, with 10 points added to an alliance’s score for each assist.
In six short weeks, Nemesis was able to create Bellerophon, an agile, sharp-shooting robot. Team members first designed the robot entirely using CAD software, then worked to bring their creation to life. Most parts were constructed in the Technology Lab of Robbinsville High School using the CNC Mill and Router. Any parts too large to be crafted in the lab, however, were made by local sponsors per the student’s specifications. Sporting a claw and a spring-powered linear punch shooter, Bellerophon was designed to swiftly grab balls and launch them into the high-scoring goal.
The first day of competition, however, was fraught with difficult matchups for Team Nemesis. Despite presenting a consistently rigorous offense, and Bellerophon’s first five matches left the team with a record of 2-3. The less-than-auspicious start to the competition was disheartening, but Nemesis rallied, and thanks to their superb Drive Team (seniors Josh Falk and Antonio Papa, sophomore Christian Gavalchin, and mentor Scott Meredith), the team won the remaining matches on Friday.
Despite the turnaround at the end of the day, however, Nemesis still hadn’t climbed into the top eight, the robots who would captain their own hand-picked alliance in the finals. Heading into competition Saturday morning, the team knew they had a lot to prove. After ending the season ranked as the first robot in MAR, Team Nemesis was ready to fight for the title of champion. And sure enough, Friday morning saw victory after victory for Nemesis, who gradually worked their way up the rankings. By the conclusion of the Qualification Matches, Team 2590 sported a solid record of 9-3, grabbing 7th seed.
Due to their high rank, Nemesis reserved the right to select two teams to join them in the Elimination Matches, a series of matchup where best two out of three would advance to the next round. For their first partner, Nemesis picked another skilled offensive robot, Team 11 MORT from Mount Olive, New Jersey. To round out the alliance, they selected Team 341 Miss Daisy from Wissahickon, Pennsylvania, a strong defensive robot.
The trio made a fantastic alliance, and the quarter- and semi-finals proved no problem for the three teams. Easily winning the first two matchups in both rounds, the alliance powered into the finals. But it was in the first finals match that the winning streak came to a crashing halt: Miss Daisy’s robot stopped moving early on after a run-in with an opposing robot. Short one team member and unable to rack up all three assists, the alliance had a heartbreaking loss of 241-195.
As soon as the buzzer signaled the end of the match, Miss Daisy called a timeout, team members rushing onto the field to assess the damage and see what caused the mishap. It appeared that after being hit, a wire was knocked loose, leaving the robot at a dead standstill.
The problem rectified, the field was reset and the countdown began for the next match. At the sound of the buzzer, the crowd began to cheer, only to see Miss Daisy come to a halt again after a few seconds. Hearts dropped and students exchanged worried looks as the match unfolded, again played two against three. Despite the clear disadvantage, Nemesis and MORT valiantly played the match, and at the conclusion, all heads turned anxiously toward the screen where the final score would be displayed. Serving as proof that every point truly counts, the score was revealed to be the closest of the entire competition-- Nemesis nabbed the win with a score of 176-175.
Still alive and in the competition, the teams once again made a beeline for the field, this time truly under pressure. The alliance's only timeout already used, there were precious few minutes to fix Miss Daisy. And the question remained: would they break again? The second match was too close, and the alliance couldn’t risk another match outnumbered.
After a quick investigation, it was found that the problem was a communication fluke, and the field was reset for one last match. As the points continued to climb, it became clear that it would be a close match. Nemesis, MORT, and Miss Daisy worked as a well-oiled machine, and thankfully, all three continued to function perfectly. It was a hard fought match, both sides knowing it was winner-takes-all, but after the buzzer, the 226-182 score named Nemesis, MORT, and Miss Daisy the MAR champions.
“It’s really satisfying; after spending six weeks practically living in the Tech Lab building the robot, winning with it makes the hard work all worth the effort,” enthused Mehaa Gupta, a junior Build Team member.
In addition to their blue Winner’s banner, Nemesis collected the Industrial Design Award, recognizing Bellerophon as a superbly designed robot that efficiently addressed the Aerial Assist challenge.
“It was a great way to end our season in MAR, especially seeing as it’s my senior year. I’m really proud of how far the team has come in the past four years,” said Jenna Mollica, the Build Team’s Chief Technical Officer.
Due to their successes at both the Hatboro Horsham and Lenape District Events and their victory at the MAR Championship, Team Nemesis was invited to compete at the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri. From April 23-26th, 400 FIRST teams from countries all over the world will congregate in the Edward Jones Dome to see who will take the crown and emerge the 2014 World Champions.
“St. Louis is a truly unique experience because we watch competitions from all these foreign countries online, and for this one event, we all come together in one place to not only compete against one another but to see firsthand all the different ways teams designed their robot to complete this year’s challenge,” explained Chief Business Officer Baljot Ranu, who has been to the last two World Championships.
Finalists and Chairman's Winners at Lenape
Champions of the Hatboro-Horsham District Event, Robbinsville High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 2590 Nemesis came to the Lenape District Event on Saturday, March 22nd ready to follow up their tremendous success from two weeks prior.
Seneca High School came to life early Saturday morning as teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware arrived with their robots, anticipating a weekend of fierce competition. The challenge? Aerial Assist, a game played 3 versus 3, the objective being to place a ball into the floor goal or to shoot for the high-scoring goal. An emphasis is placed on cooperation, with 10 points added to an alliance’s score for each assist.
Bellerophon, Team Nemesis’ 2014 robot, was designed by team members using CAD software, and then constructed using the student’s specifications. Sporting a claw and a spring-powered linear punch shooter, Bellerophon was designed to swiftly grab balls and launch them into the high-scoring goal.
But the team didn’t just build a sharp-shooting robot. According to Parth Mandrekar, a sophomore Build Team member, one of Bellerophon’s biggest assets is “his ability to cooperate with other teams through passing and receiving passes effectively.” And this versatility on the field clearly sets Bellerophon apart from other robots.
Indeed, Bellerophon proved a force to be reckoned with. Although the event had a less than auspicious start, what with two replays of Nemesis’ first match, it wasn’t long before the team picked up steam. Team Nemesis powered its way through the first day of Qualification Matches, sustaining only two losses in nine rounds.
Bellerophon wasn’t the only one under pressure, however. Seniors Julia Borowski, Baljot Ranu and junior Arnav Vast spent Saturday morning with the judges, presenting Nemesis’ 2014 Chairman’s Award. In the world of FIRST Robotics, the Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious honor that can be given to a team, recognizing them as the best model for other teams to emulate. Chairman’s winners not only demonstrate exemplary community outreach and commitment to STEM, they best embody the purpose of FIRST. And this event saw Nemesis pitted against 19 other teams from across three states. After rehearsing until the presentation was just right, the team had only to wait for the concluding Awards Ceremony on Sunday.
Moving forward, day two of the competition saw even more success for Team Nemesis, who won all of their remaining Qualification Matches. Blazing through the competition, Nemesis captured 1st seed, boasting an impressive record of 10-2. During Alliance Selection, Nemesis elected to captain Team 1640 Sa-BOT-age from Downingtown, PA and Team 223 Xtreme Heat from Wanaque, NJ.
It certainly didn’t take long for the competition to heat up, though. The gaps between final scores were closing, with sometimes only a few points securing an alliance a victory. Although Nemesis moved through the quarter-finals unscathed, they sustain a loss in the semi-finals during a best two-of-three match up, with a nail biting final score of 147-146. Team 341 Miss Daisy from Wissahickon, PA presented a strong defense, shadowing Bellerophon the entire match in an attempt to curtail Nemesis’ score. With victory nearly in reach, Nemesis kicked it into high gear, fighting for their spot in the finals. It was hard-won, but Nemesis triumphed in the following two matches, securing their alliance a spot in the finals.
But as the spectators in the stands cheered for Nemesis’ win, the team in the pits discovered a problem. A particularly nasty collision in the previous match had damaged Bellerophon’s wiring, rendering him unable to shoot. With mere minutes between matches, the team had no time to repair, and all out of timeouts, Nemesis was forced to enter the finals sans a shooter.
Bellerophon immediately adopted the role of the defensive robot, attempting to hinder the opposing alliance’s offense. But with two offensive robots taking on three, the gap in alliance points grew too quickly. The other alliance took first one match then the other, and Team Nemesis and their alliance partners were named District Finalists.
Although the loss in the finals was disappointing, the entire team was proud of emerging Finalists in such a competitive event. The day wasn’t over yet, however. As the judges transitioned into the Awards Ceremony, the team began to grow anxious with anticipation. Members from the Marketing and Finance teams glanced at each other, wondering if this could be it.
“Congratulations to the 2014 Lenape District Event Chairman’s Award winners… Team 2590 Nemesis!”
The stands burst into applause and hugs were exchanged as the team’s Chairman’s Award video began to play on the big screen.
“Winning the Chairman's Award is incomparable to any other award in FIRST. When I see our team name displayed on that screen in front of the entire arena as the winner, I feel immensely proud because this award is a true confirmation of the hard work we've done together, from the build team's countless hours spent building a winning robot to the Marketing and Finance Teams' endless editing of our business plan,” expressed Baljot Ranu, the Chief Business Officer.
Nemesis’ next competition will be the Mid Atlantic Robotics Championships held at Lehigh University Stabler Arena from April 10th through 12th. Admission is free to all.
Nemesis Takes First at Hatboro-Horsham
Hot off the heels of their six-week Build Season, Robbinsville FIRST Robotics Team 2590 Nemesis arrived at Hatboro-Horsham High School ready to impress.
Following the stream of students and robots, Team Nemesis made their way to the pits, down a hallway filled with the sounds of power tools at work amidst yells of “Robot coming through!” Saturday, March 1st marked the beginning of Competition Season, and forty FIRST Robotics teams from New Jersey, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania flocked to the Hatboro-Horsham District Event for a chance to show off their creations. This year’s game, Aerial Assist, would be played 3 versus 3, the objective being to place a ball into the floor goal or to shoot for the high-scoring goal. An emphasis was placed on cooperation, with 10 points added to an alliance’s score for each assist.
Nemesis’ new robot, Bellerophon, was designed by team members using CAD software, and then constructed using the student’s specifications. Sporting a claw and a spring-powered linear punch shooter, Bellerophon was designed to swiftly grab balls and launch them into the high-scoring goal.
The articulate design paid off, as Nemesis instantly shot to first seed during the beginning of Qualification Rounds. Bellerophon proved to be an unstoppable offensive robot, and Nemesis seemed poised to end the day with an undefeated record. Their winning streak came to a crashing halt, however, when Bellerophon’s claw broke after a run in with particularly zealous defensive robots.
In a rush of adrenaline, Bellerophon was raced back to Nemesis’ pit, where team members immediately set to work removing the broken claw. The good news: the team had the time and resources to build a second practice robot during Build Season equipped with a fully functioning arm. The bad news: swapping out the claws would take time, a luxury the team wasn’t afforded. While Nemesis worked diligently to fix Bellerophon, two of the team’s matches came and went. Short a robot, Nemesis’ alliances lost, and the team dropped to second seed with a record of 7-2.
Not all of the action was taking place on the field, however. Back in the pits, members from Nemesis’ Marketing and Finance Teams presented their Business Plan to FIRST judges, outlining the team structure, explaining their SWOT analysis, sharing the team’s exemplary community outreach, and offering a breakdown of the team’s budget and finances.
Despite the Saturday setback, Nemesis entered Day Two of the competition even more determined to claim first seed. By the time the team’s first match of the day was called, Bellerophon was fully functional and ready for action. Picking up steam once again, Nemesis won all their remaining Qualification matches, clinching first seed with an overall record of 10-2.
As the first seed, Nemesis was named an alliance captain and given the chance to pick two teams to join them going into Elimination Rounds. The first picked, Team 341 Miss Daisy from Ambler, PA, would add a strong defense, while Team 272 Cyber-Crusaders from Lansdale, PA was chosen to round out the alliance. The crowds cheered and roared as the alliance worked as a single, well-oiled machine, tearing through the Elimination Rounds undefeated, claiming first place.
Amidst the team’s celebration of their victory, the judges quickly transitioned into the Awards Ceremony. In addition to the coveted blue Winner Banner, Nemesis was awarded the Entrepreneurship Award for their comprehensive Business Plan.
“While winning the competition was an honor, it was nice to have the Business Team recognized for their continuous hard work as well. Horsham was definitely a victory for the entire team,” said Karla Dimatulac, the Director of Marketing.
Nemesis’ outstanding performance at Hatboro-Horsham will count towards their standings in the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Region (MAR).
Their next competition, the Lenape District Event on March 22-23, is free admission for all fans.
Find Us on Facebook!
Nemesis is now Facebook official.
On Saturday, Nemesis joined the world of Facebook, garnering an impressive 230 “likes” in less than 12 hours. Friends, family, and fans of Nemesis now have even further access to the team through their new profile. Team members will be frequently updating the page, so be sure to go “like” Nemesis 2590 for the latest news.
Sponsor Networking Night 2014
It takes more than a snowstorm to derail Nemesis. Despite the inclement weather, Robbinsville High School’s Technology Lab opened her doors to corporate America, leaving the visitors quite impressed with FIRST Robotics Team 2590.
This past Thursday, Team Nemesis took a break from their hectic Build Season to host their second annual Sponsor Networking Night, an event planned as an opportunity to give back to the sponsors who are so vital to the team’s continued success. Financing the construction of a competition robot is no small task, and it is essential to maintain steady revenue. A seven year establishment now, Nemesis was initially founded with a start-up grant from NASA. In order to sustain the team, students rely upon donations from local businesses and corporate sponsors.
“As a team, we prioritize our sponsors. We make sure they know how much we truly appreciate their continued support throughout the seasons,” expressed Karla Dimatulac, the Director of Marketing.
The event had an impressive turn-out, with Robbinsville Superintendent Dr. Steven Mayer, Robbinsville Mayor David Fried, Assemblyman Daniel Benson, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, and New Jersey Senator Linda Greenstein in attendance, along with Nemesis’ returning and newfound sponsors alike.
Sponsor Networking Night is one way to guarantee sponsors are kept up-to-date on all things Nemesis. The team is run as a technical company, with the business-savvy students in the Marketing and Finance sectors acting as a contact point between the team and their sponsors. Members of the Finance Team contact potential sponsors through cold calls, while the Marketing Team ensures all donors are kept apprised of Nemesis’ progress throughout the season.
“What impresses me is the way everyone on this team has a role. As I say, the Robbinsville students are definitely at the top of their game,” says Senator Greenstein on Team Nemesis.
Team members Julia Borowski, Baljot Ranu, and Parth Mandrekar started the evening with a presentation detailing the accomplishments of the 2013 season, including the team’s two regional victories, their trip to the World Championships, and the win of the coveted Chairman’s Award. In recognition of their outstanding generosity, each sponsor was awarded a personalized certificate created by the Design Team. To conclude the presentation, the team gave a preview of the 2014 FIRST Challenge, Aerial Assist, and the robot currently under construction.
Afterwards, Build Team offered a tour of the Technology Lab and demonstrated Athena, the 2013 Frisbee-shooting robot. Athena was a hit with the visitors, and sponsors even tried their hand at driving the agile, sharp-shooting robot. Most importantly, the companies were presented the opportunity to network alongside each other.
“Team Nemesis and dedicated mentors went all out to make their sponsors and dignified guests feel welcomed and appreciated during the Sponsor Networking Night. It was an enjoyable evening and it was a pleasure to network with other prominent businessmen and elected officials,” said Ms. Marie Thadal, a representative from the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists and Coptis, two of Nemesis’ generous sponsors.
2014 Week 4: Build Journal
Over the past few weeks, the Build Team has been hard at work prototyping different elements for this year’s robot. From the shooter to the intake, the build team has been making everything they could possibly imagine. This week, though, the build team put the machines hard at work. From the CNC mill constantly milling to the new router powering away, the sweet sound of grinding metal filled the room. We ran back and forth between watching the parts being made, taking them off quickly, and starting a new part before dinner is just the way we like it. First, Team Deburr smooths out the edges. Then, Team Scotch-Brite® takes the parts and makes them pretty and shiny. It has been no-stop work, well except when food comes or when it snows. Next step- testing.
New Logos, Pins, and T-Shirts for 2014!
Nemesis unveils its new t-shirt designs, illustrated by Michael Filipek and Alex Wolfe. Team members, friends, family, and supporters are welcome to purchase team t-shirts ($17), hoodies ($30) , sweatpants ($22), and drawstring bags ($6). Order forms are due Sunday, January 26th, 2014. To order online, e-mail the team at firstname.lastname@example.org to send in your order!
Through the Eyes of the Freshmen: 2014 Season
It’s two weeks into the build season, and the freshman are getting used to Nemesis’s hectic schedule, and are enjoying every minute of being on Robbinsville High School’s FIRST Robotics Team. It was an exciting preseason, starting from the very first day. Every freshman remembers their first time coming into the Tech Lab, sitting down, and not knowing what to do. They had no idea what to expect. That changed in a matter of days. They learned that being on Nemesis requires commitment, responsibility, and hard work. Within a few weeks, upperclassmen, mentors, and supervisors trained and taught them basic skills and also showed them what it means to be a great role model for the team. First came GirlPOWER, the first preseason competition of the year. Nemesis did exceptionally well, winning the tournament, and the new members first handedly experienced what the competition environment is like.
Then came Discovery Day, and freshmen learned what it is like planning an important event, and working to get children interested in robotics, science, and engineering. Some freshmen remember their first time attending Discovery Day, and now they could remember the first time hosting Discovery Day. As everyone anxiously counted the days before Kickoff, it was time to finish learning all the skills required before the season started. Freshmen learned so many skills and will use these skills during the build season and will apply these skills to real life experiences.
All in all, new team members look forward to an exciting build season!