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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.

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Nemesis's First Engineering Day!

According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way an egg should be able to fly. It lacks wings, aerodynamics, and any capability of attaining such characteristics. Despite this and against all odds, eggs flew on November 19th at the Robbinsville Robotics FRC 2590 Nemesis Annual Engineering Day.  

Over the course of two four-hour sessions, Nemesis invited 6th through 8th graders to the Robbinsville High School tech lab. The purpose? To challenge the students and foster within them a drive to pursue STEAM careers. Each pair of campers explored engineering through two challenges designed by Nemesis: an egg parachute and marshmallow launcher (the former requiring students to construct a protective capsule for the egg and then drop it from Robbinsville High School’s second floor balcony). Students were provided with finite resources of cardboard, hot glue, and foam, to model real-world constraints.

The challenges provided forced the students to think outside the egg-box and innovate, creating a microcosm of the professional engineering world. Build team member and sophomore Richa Mandrekar remarked that “What makes this so important is that this almost cultivates the next generation of STEAM,” as her group returned into the lab from launching a marshmallow 21 feet. “Plus, it’s fun. You see excitement in their eyes.” The group later beat their record by 10 feet.

Whereas Discovery Day introduces middle and elementary schoolers to STEAM, Engineering Day fleshes that introduction out to integrate real world constraints. While financial pressures need not apply, competition, innovation, and time were extremely prevalent within the activities. Participants needed to find their edge to best address the design challenges, producing unique results, shown below.  (as shown below). .

In engineering, there exist near infinite possibilities of mechanical failure. A gear losing its teeth, a crossbeam bowing, or even an entire chassis collapsing. However, only two things ended up breaking at the 2016 Annual Robbinsville Robotics FRC 2590 Nemesis Engineering Day: misconceptions and eggs.

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An Alumna Story: Stephanie Kovacs

Hello, my name is Stephanie Kovacs and I was a member of Nemesis for the entirety of my high school career, from 2010 to 2014.

I am currently a sophomore at Penn State University majoring in Advertising/Public Relations with a minor in Digital Media Trends and Analytics as well as possessing a certificate in Sports Administration.  At school, I am an active member of the Student Programming Association (SPA), an organization that brings a variety of acts to campus, such as concerts, comedians, lecturers, and even magicians.  These events are free for Penn State students to attend and I have the opportunity of planning, marketing, and running them.  Some acts that I have facilitated as a member are: Matt and Kim, Bleachers, Abby Wambach, and Brandon Stanton.

In addition, I have had two internships to date, achieving considerable success in both.  The first was during the summer of 2015 with the 14th Legislative District at the Office of Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo.  Here I assisted staff with community outreach, data collection, and office organization, as well as learning a great deal about the industry. Currently, I am working at my second internship with Penn State’s College of Communications External Affairs Office, helping to organize alumni mentoring and networking events for College of Communications students.  To do so, I produce programs and flyers, market the events to professors and clubs, and coordinate with the two Communications alumni boards to plan the events.  I also assist in spreading the word of job openings to communications alumni through LinkedIn with weekly job postings.  Finally, I write bios for many of the board members for the College of Comm website.

This summer, I will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy for 6 weeks, where I will take two courses, a Black and White Photography course and a Design Communications course, as well as exploring the plethora of cultural aspects presented by such an opportunity.

I began my journey with FIRST in 2010, right where my brother ended his. My brother, Tim, introduced me to FIRST during his graduating year and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity of joining something so unique. Nemesis became like a second family to me, and being a part of this team not only helped me to grow academically and professionally, but also personally.

During my time on Nemesis, I worked within the business team as the Lead Photographer and Marketing Manager.  With the help of my teammates and mentors, I learned how to plan trips, photograph meetings and competitions, present to judges, write a business plan, and organize and run professional events.  However, more than anything, I learned that dedication, passion and grit can only help when working towards aspirations.  I could not be more appreciative to have been able to work with this team, and to have the pleasure of calling them my family.

Being a member of Nemesis for four years changed my life in every positive way possible.  I have learned business, design, and leadership skills that will assist me through college and in a future job.  I was fortunate enough to experience Nemesis’ transition from teammates to family.  Although I have graduated, I will continue to be a part of this family.  I am a registered mentor for the team and I will continue to be involved in the team’s activities by assisting members in any way I can.  

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An Alumna Story: Erica Falk

Hello, my name is Erica Falk and I was a member of Nemesis from 2011 to 2014

As a Sophomore at Arcadia University studying Elementary and Special Education as well as the president of the Arcadia Education Club, I’ve come to overwhelmingly appreciate all the skills I learned while part of the Nemesis family.  I’m particularly excited on using my organizational and planning skills in junction with STEAM education for my future classroom and students.  I have continued to be part of Nemesis as a second year college mentor.

For me and many others, being a member of Nemesis was the best experience I had during high school.  While I was not a part of the team during my freshman year,  my brother was and with a logistics team position open, I had an opportunity to join. What really convinced me was when the team was competing at an off season event, and Mrs. Wolfe approached for the first time to ask me to manage sign-outs as members left the competition. The following September, I stepped into the technology lab to join the team.

Once I became a full time member my Sophomore year, Mrs. Wolfe tasked me of getting the entire Nemesis team of 36 people (3 with green cards) over the border into Canada for our Montreal competition trip. After months of careful preparation, the team successfully entered Canada in under 15 minutes, allowing the team to compete in Montreal. The following year, I received the title of Chief Operating Officer, effectively shifting my responsibility to planning every competition, Discovery Day and Sponsor Networking Night for the remainder of my high school career. During this period, Mrs. Wolfe taught me how to communicate ideas and present cases via coordinating with the high school administration for each event.

Being a member of Nemesis gave me confidence and allowed me to be myself.  When I first joined the team, I was very quiet and hesitant to do many things.  With Mrs. Wolfe believing in me and pushing me to challenge myself, I overcame countless obstacles and learned so much.

Although I’m unable to attend most of the team meetings, the team knows I am just an email, text or call away.  Being a member of Nemesis allowed me to be part of a group that I was able to call my second family, which isn’t just because my brother was on the team. The tech lab at Robbinsville High School is always going to be a place that I can call home, and I know that I can count on Mrs. Wolfe to continue teaching me valuable lessons that will translate into my future career and aspirations.

Archive

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2013 World Championships


With scant minutes between matches, time was of the essence and the alliance partners thought, "Is Nemesis in the game or dead in the water?"  It was the quarterfinals of the Archimedes division of the World Championship when the floor intake of  Nemesis’ Frisbee throwing robot, Athena, died. Switching quickly to defense, the top offensive robot finished the match.  With an adrenalin rush, Jenna Mollica and Julia Borowski raced for the Pit to retrieve the spare Frisbee intake subsystem.  With a gasp of disbelief and impending doom, their teammates, parents, and mentors were on the edge of their seats watching the intense activity below on the field.  The alliance had to decide whether to forsake Nemesis and pick a substitute alliance partner or stay with them, gambling on a working robot for the next match. 

With sure and practiced hands, Jenna, Julia, Josh Falk, Arnav Vast, and mentor Scott Meredith ripped off the bent system and replaced it with the spare in two minutes.  Dan Gavrushenko working in parallel started repairing the original intake roller.  Applause erupted from the other teams in admiration when the Pit Crew, working like a well oiled machine, smiled in satisfaction as the new intake system roared to life.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind, who built this award winning robot.  On time and competition ready, Nemesis queued to enter the field with their alliance for the next match. 

A seven disc shooter is de rigueur for alliances to gain the momentum needed to win the 2013 Ultimate Ascent game. After winning the Hatboro-Horsham District and Mid-Atlantic Region Championship, this young team competed in one of the top divisions, Archimedes, where high scores were in the 260s.  One of the major reasons for their success is the 7 disc autonomous routine written by Antonio Papa, Lead Programmer, which scores 42 points in the first fifteen seconds of the match.   Under program control, the camera senses the top target, automatically aims and rapidly shoots 3 discs for 18 points then drives forward over 4 addition discs.   Switching to reverse, Nemesis drops the Frisbee intake system and sweeps up the 4 discs then returns to the original shooting position, where it senses the top target and shoots the 4 discs for an additional 24 points.  Cheers erupt as they deliver up to 42 points at the start of each match before the Drive team takes over for the teleop phase of the game. 

With two speeds, low gear with the torque to push most robots and a nimble and fast high gear, Driver Josh Falk takes charge and consistently scores 12 points per round trip cycle as the robot gathers 4 discs, returns to the home pyramid and shoots all 4 discs into the target.  Deftly moving and dodging the defense robots, Nemesis is able to scoop discs from anywhere on the playing field.  Josh’s strategy is to score as many points as possible and not be deflected into a push and shove contest.  But the power is there when needed and Nemesis can bully it’s way with the best of them. 

Finishing the season as the 12th ranked robot in the public poll of mentors, team members and alumni, the team is very happy with their 2013 season results.

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RHS Robotics team advances to World Championships


Fifty of the best and the brightest from New Jersey, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania competed in the FIRST Robotics Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, but Robbinsville High School and its alliance partners came out on top in a victory that advances RHS to the world championships this week in St. Louis. 

The Stabler Arena at Lehigh University was filled with robot driving, Frisbee-flying, and pyramid-climbing action during the weekend of April 12. “Ultimate Ascent “ was the name of the game, and the goal was to shoot Frisbees into goals of varying heights and point values. For additional points, robots climbed to one of three levels on a pyramid at the end of each match. Each qualification match lasted 2 minutes and 15 seconds and was played between two alliances of three randomly selected robots.

The competition at Lehigh University was quick to heat up, with one of the first matches ending with a score of over 200 points! It soon became clear, however, that victory would be hard-won, with scores sometimes differing by only a couple points. Teams were forced to make every point count, facing the fiercest competition of the 2013 season.

Nemesis quickly rose in the rankings thanks to its superb drive team: students Josh Falk, Antonio Papa, Dan Gavrushenko and mentor Scott Meredith. In one of the closer matches, Nemesis was losing with seconds left on the clock. The crowd began to count down, 3…2…1…, and Nemesis climbed the pyramid at the last second to take the win! In fact, by the end of the second day, Nemesis was the second-ranked team.

Not all of the action was taking place in the arena, however. Back in the pit area, scores of judges visited Nemesis to see the robot and learn more about the team. Students presented the team’s business plan and community outreach events to the awed judges. The safety advisers also stopped by to visit Nemesis’ Safety Captain Parth Mandrekar to ensure the team followed all regulations.

The third and final day of competition kicked off on Saturday. Dance music blasted and teams cheered as the last few qualification matches were played. Alliance selections for the finals were made before lunch, in which the top eight teams picked two others to join them in the finals matches. Working with Storm Robotics from Lenape Regional High School and Sa-BOT-age from Downington High School East in Pennsylvania, Nemesis was part of the first-ranked alliance.

In the quarterfinals, Nemesis faced off against the exact alliance that had triumphed over them in the TCNJ District Event. This time, however, it was Nemesis who emerged victorious. As the quarterfinals advanced into the semifinals, scores were becoming higher and matches were growing closer. One nail-biting match ended with a final score of 191 to 171! Eventually, Nemesis fought their way into the finals. The winner would be determined by best two out of three matches. After winning the first match, Nemesis got ready to face off for the title of MAR Champion. As the match began, robots went flying across the playing field to collect disks, and shot one after another into the goals. There was no doubt it would be a close one, as spectators lost count of all the disks flying into their targets.

Teams cheered and waited in eager anticipation as the final score was tallied by the referees. The announcer called attention to the projection screen where the outcome would be displayed. “With a final score of 140 to 136 … Alliance One takes the crown!”

A triumphant roar erupted from the stands as Nemesis and its alliance celebrated their hard-fought victory. At the awards ceremony, Nemesis was presented with the Excellence in Engineering Award, recognizing the team for its elegant and innovative intake for the swift retrieval of Frisbees.

Nemesis now advances to the World Championships being held this week (April 23-26) in St. Louis.

“Now that we’ve won the MAR Championships, it will be exciting to go to the World Championships and see how we stack up there,” student Josh Falk said.

Originally published in the Robbinsville Sun on April 23, 2013. Click here to read original story

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Team 2590 Emerges Victorious at TCNJ, wins Chairman's Award


Robbinsville High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 2590 continued its successful 2013 competition season at The College of New Jersey District Competition. Hot on the heels of a district win at Hatboro-Horsham, Team Nemesis clinched second place at TCNJ on March 16 and won the prestigious Chairman’s Award, presented by Anisha Mohan (Marketing), Julia Borowski (Build Team) and Baljot Ranu (Finance).

RHS students designed the team’s competition robot “Athena” using CAD mechanical engineering software and constructed it in the high school’s technology lab in just six short weeks. Local Robbinsville businesses and sponsors custom manufactured Athena’s parts as per the students’ design specifications.

Excitement ran high as Team 2590 arrived at TCNJ for their second two-day district level competition of the 2013 season. As 38 other teams rolled in from New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware, Nemesis prepared for a day of Frisbee-flying, robot-climbing fun.

Dance music blasted and teams cheered as the games of Ultimate Ascent began, in which robots aim to shoot plastic discs through targets of varying heights and then climb a metal pyramid. The first day of qualification matches were played between two teams of three randomly selected alliances. Athena quickly shot ahead of the competition, accurately shooting one disc per second into the highest scoring goal.

Throughout the day, supporters stopped by to cheer Nemesis on including Schools Superintendent Steve Mayer, RHS Principal Molly Avery, RHS teachers Sandy Overton and Lisa Peters. Frederick Egenolf and Diane Delandro from Nemesis’ sponsors Bristol-Myers Squibb and Citibank, respectively, also joined Team 2590 in the stands, to root for Athena. State Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Mercer, an avid team supporter, dropped by as well to see Nemesis perform firsthand.

Team 2590 finished the day as the second seeded team, thanks to the excellent remote-controlled driving by student team members Josh Falk, Antonio Papa, and Dan Gavrushenko, under the guidance of RHS teacher and mentor Scott Meredith.

Nemesis saw even more success on Day Two of the competition. The team became the highest scoring alliance of the day, accumulating a whopping 168 points in a single match while partnered with Team 103 Cybersonics from Kintnersville, Pennsylvania. When the qualification matches came to a close, Nemesis clinched second seed with a record of 10-2, one win behind Team 103, the first seeded team. Without hesitation, the Cybersonics invited Nemesis to join their alliance for elimination matches, rounding out the alliance with Team 1881 Gamma Elite from Paterson, New Jersey.

The alliance sliced through the eliminations, quickly securing their place in the finals. After a couple hard-fought matches, Nemesis emerged the finalists of the competitions, taking home second place. The biggest success, however, was yet to come.

Team members sat perched on the edge of their seats throughout the awards ceremony, waiting restlessly as more and more awards were called. Finally, it came time to announce the Chairman’s Award winner. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award given, honoring the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and inspires appreciation of science, technology, and real-life rewards and opportunities in these fields. It also recognizes a team for an outstanding commitment to their community.

Nemesis waited with bated breath until, finally, “The winner of the 2013 TCNJ District Chairman’s Award is. .. Team 2590!” The stands erupted into applause as team members ran to receive their medals and the team’s Chairman’s Video was played on a large screen. The team eagerly lined up to take a photo with their newest addition to their growing collection of banners.

“The Chairman’s Award Video was definitely a labor of sleepless nights and hours of editing. So when I saw the video up on the big screen, I’m not ashamed to say there were a few tears of joy,” gushed Karla Dimatulac, the main Chairman’s Video editor.

Following the TCNJ competition, Nemesis ranked 8th out of 1,400 teams in an unofficial international Offensive Power Ranking (OPR) of FIRST robots.

“It’s an amazing achievement, to be internationally recognized as a powerful force within the world of FIRST Robotics,” said mentor Karen Young.

Team Nemesis is now preparing for the Mid Atlantic Region Championships. It will be held April 11-13 at Lehigh University’s Stabler Arena. The team hopes to qualify for the World Championships in St. Louis set for April 24-27.

“We had proved to be a top team at the district events, so it will be interesting to see how we do at the MAR and World Championships,” said member Jenna Mollica.

Visit the team’s interactive website, frc2590.org, at any time for updates on the 2013 season.

Sponsors of Team 2590 Nemesis, whose donations help pay for the equipment needed to build the robot and the entry fees for the various competitions, include: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lockheed Martin, BAPS Charities, CCL Label, NASA, Siemens Corp., Robbinsville Education Foundation, SRI International, Citibank, Skylink Technology, NJ Chamber of Commerce, Elite Dental, McGraw Hill, McGraw Hill Federal Credit Union, APCO, Gaum Incorporated, Evans Analytical Group, Gilbane, DesignTree, Carfaro Fencing, ShopRite, Mannino’s Three, R.A.S. Process Equipment, T-Slot and the Robbinsville Board of Education.

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Robbinsville Robotics Team Wins First Place at Hatboro-Horsham District Competition


Robinsville High School FIRST Robotics Team, Nemesis, won first place at the Hatboro-Horsham district competition March 2, 2013.

Nemesis competed against 36 teams from New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware with their robot, Athena.

In the qualifying matches, team members Josh Falk, Antonio Papa, Dan Gavrushenko with advisor Scott Meredith steered Athena in a disc throwing competition. The robot launched one disc per second into the highest goal helping Nemesis land on top of the leader board.

On the second day, the team continued their success and ended the qualification rounds with an undefeated 11-0-1 record. They were ranked in the first place seed and chose to ally with teams from Ambler and Pottstwon, Pa. for the final matches.

The Nemesis alliance faced off against a team from Wilmington, Del. and their alliance, called MOE, in the semifinals. The final score was Nemesis 150 and MOE 120.

Robbinsville robotics earned the Quality Award for excellent execution of the robot design and an overall outstanding robot.

Their next competition is March 15 and 16 at The College of New Jersey Student Recreation Center in Ewing. Doors open at 9 a.m. Admission is free.

Originally posted at mercerspace.com

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Investing in students


The business donors who help make Robbinsville High School’s FIRST Robotics program possible came to Team 2590’s recent networking event where they drove the 2012 basketball-shooting robot and saw the almost-finished 2013 model, which will toss Frisbees and climb metal pyramids when the next competitions begin March 1.

“It’s amazing that they can do this level of work in just five or six weeks,” said Peter Mavroudakis, of Lockheed Martin, as he surveyed the activity in the high school’s expansive technology lab.

Steve Morales, of Siemens Industry, said what he found equally impressive was the program’s comprehensiveness. The 66 members of Team 2590 Nemesis work in sub-teams devoted to all aspects of a successful robotics program, including the creation of a business plan, finance, fundraising, marketing and running a website – not just designing, programming and assembling a robot.

“It’s impressive,” Morales said. “There’s so much more that goes into this besides the building of robots.”

The Feb. 6 Sponsor Networking Event at the high school drew about a dozen representatives from a range of global and local companies in the fields of technology, automation, software development, custom-machinery manufacturing, finance, pharmaceuticals, and the aerospace industry.

Students, dressed in black business attire, gave a polished presentation that highlighted the benefits of corporate sponsorship as well as Team 2590’s achievements in last year’s FIRST Robotics “Rebound Rumble” competitions. RHS advanced all the way to the semifinals at the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis where it finished among the top 4 percent of the more than 400 teams there.

The 2012 season also included district entrepreneurship awards for the finance and marketing team, the prestigious chairman’s award for overall excellence, the regional best website award at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, and a regional entrepreneurship award at the Festival de Robotique in Montreal.

Donations from corporate and community sponsors are key to the team’s success because the grants pay for the equipment, competition fees and team travel expenses, said RHS technology teacher Joy Wolfe, the advisor to Team 2590. Last year the team’s operating expenses totaled $60,000 because the team advanced all the way to the world championship, Wolfe said.

After the students’ presentation, the veteran of last year’s competitions, a 4-foot, 120-pound basketball-shooting robot dubbed “Prince,” was whirring about and sinking baskets on an oversized wooden backboard affixed with four hoops of varying heights. But the main attraction was the unfinished machine on a lab table that will soon be competing in FIRST Robotics’ new 2013 challenge, a game called “Ultimate Ascent.”

FIRST challenged high school students on Jan. 5 to build robots that can shoot Frisbees through targets of varying heights and then climb a metal pyramid. The robots will earn points based on how many targets of varying degrees of difficulty they make and how high they can climb on the pyramid before time runs out. The students were given six weeks to design and build their robots.

“This year’s game is nothing like we have ever seen before, pretty much the hardest challenge that FIRST has ever issued,” said Team 2590 CEO Josh Falk. “It’s going to be interesting to see how different teams tackle the challenge.”

Uddhav Joglekar, an executive on the build team, said the team’s strategy for amassing points is not to waste too much time on the pyramid.

“As a team, we decided that climbing the pyramid to the top row is not what we want to do,” Uddhav said “So we have a robot that is designed to right now shoot our Frisbees and get that quick bottom low hang at the end of the match.”

Build Team Executive Julia Borowski said a Robbinsville-based custom machinery manufacturer, Gaum Inc., has been instrumental in providing a lot of the parts for the 2013 robot.

“This year, our students who have taken Project Lead the Way (pre-engineering) classes, where they learned to use CAD (mechanical engineering) software to design many of the parts, and we were able to send that to our sponsor Gaum to manufacture these parts,” Julia said. “They fit excellently on our robot.”

The Robbinsville robot will roll out for the first district-level competition of the 2013 season on March 2-3 at Hatboro-Horsham Regional High School in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

- See more at: http://robbinsvillesun.com/2013/02/14/investing-in-students-2/#sthash.P9oG7pnB.dpuf

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Nemesis Hosts Sponsor Networking Event


As gratitude for all the support our sponsors have given us, Nemesis grabbed their black dresses and red ties last night when the team hosted our sponsorship networking event. Our sponsors were invited to the high school to attend a brief presentation, led by CEO Josh Falk and CFO Baljot Ranu, about our team's recent success, a tour of the technology lab, and a demonstration of last year's robot, Prince.  Everyone enjoyed seeing our sponsors using their body language to control the robot via the Kinect.  Jenna Mollica and Dan Gavrushenko described the new challenge Ultimate Ascent and our strategies for the 2013 robot, Athena.

Additionally, we presented each sponsors with a customized plaque, designed by Michael Filipek, thanking them for everything they've done. Finally, we treated our guests to some humble hors d'oeurves--from chicken fingers to mini pasties (yum)--ordered and donated by our parent volunteers. Once all the sponsors left, heels were taken off in celebration of a successful evening. Needless to say, by the end of the night, the team was so hungry, even the celery sticks were completely devoured.

But no special Nemesis event is completely over until we take a couple hundred photos--here are just a few of the exec board, donned in such dapper businesswear. 

 

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Better Brush Up On Your Frisbee Terms: Nemesis PULLS Into 2013


On January 5th, the sun had barely risen when members of Team 2590 woke up bright and early just hours before the much-awaited disclosure of the 2013 season game challenge. Along on our kickoff adventures were our fresh rookies—still unaware of this wild-but-in-a-good-way lifestyle that is the FIRST Robotics Build Season. Shortly after the whole team arrived at the local Montgomery High School Kickoff at around 0800 hours, members dispersed into the available workshops. Topics such as pneumatics, LabVIEW, and the Chairman’s Award were discussed in each of these seminars.

Fast forward to a couple hours and a T-shirt cannon later, one could hear the sound of every robotics kid in the auditorium having heart palpitations once Dean Kamen’s lovely face appeared on the large screen—always a popular time to start hyperventilating.

“Good luck and we’ll see you at this year’s competition!” the video concluded, leaving its audience quite stunned. Blobs of people charged to the game pieces as soon as they were revealed. Armed with a video camera, Karla and Anisha recorded a few people’s thoughts concerning this rather…perplexing challenge.

“So…we have to build a robot…that throws Frisbees…and climbs a pyramid,” many expressed skeptically. “I wish the FIRST rookies much luck this season.”

“No problem. We’ll have this done by what, Week Three?” Mr. Young assured confidently. This statement was accompanied with Samantha’s nervous laughter.

“Wait, are you recording this?”

And so, here ended the tale of this fateful day when Ultimate Ascent was at long last exposed. Though this wondrous account of events is coming to a close, this is merely a brief prologue in this team’s story. Another epic saga of optimistically fantastic journeys awaits 2590. Who knows, maybe in a few months, the website shall headline, “Nemesis Ascends To Ultimate Victory.”

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KICKOFF | Ultimate Ascent


THE MESSENGER-PRESS:

ROBBINSVILLE — Their task is to design and build a robot that can climb a metal tower and toss Frisbees through targets faster and more accurately than thousands of other robots. And they have six weeks to do it.

Students from Robbinsville, Allentown, Hamilton, Hightstown and other communities gathered at Montgomery High School on Jan. 5 for the kickoff of the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition season and watch the NASA-TV webcast revealing this year’s challenge. All over the world 51,000 students were assembled in similar gatherings to watch the live announcement broadcast from Southern New Hampshire University.

Every year, FIRST (an acronym that means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) reveals a new challenge that gives students the opportunity to test their robotics and engineering know-how in arena-style competitions at regional — and if they’re successful — national and international events.

This year’s challenge is called Ultimate Ascent and requires robots to throw Frisbees through several targets to earn points, then climb metal towers at the center of the playing field. High schools will form three-team alliances during the competitions, assigning robots to specific tasks such as tossing, climbing, and retrieving Frisbees on the playing field.

The RHS FIRST Robotics Team 2590 and other area high schools were able to take advantage of workshops on topics such as pneumatics, the LabVIEW software design system, and the judging criteria for the Chairman’s Award, the competition’s most prestigious honor, while they waited for the official broadcast to begin.

The atmosphere was reminiscent of Christmas morning jitters, as students exchanged curious glances and strained to peek under the curtain hanging 2 inches off the ground. As the minutes passed the students’ guesses about what was to come were becoming wilder.

”I bet it’s a pyramid!” called out Julia Borowski, a member of the RHS Robotics Build Team.

Finally, around 11:30 a.m., everyone was called to attention. The auditorium waited in nervous anticipation as the new game was announced and an animation explaining the rules was played.

”Good luck and we’ll see you at this year’s competition!” the video concluded, leaving its audience in stunned silence.

And it was for a good reason. The robots must not only be able to toss Frisbees into small goals of varying heights, they must also be able to climb pyramid-shaped metal towers located in the center of the 27x54-foot arena.

Under the rules of Ultimate Ascent, robots will be able to earn 1 to 5 points, depending on the difficulty of the target, but the most points are awarded to the robots that can climb the pyramids. During the last 20 seconds, robots can earn 10 to 30 points, depending on how high they can climb before time runs out.

Ultimate Ascent will be played in randomly selected 3 vs. 3 alliances in rounds that are two minutes and 15 seconds long. During the first 15 seconds of the match, called the Autonomous Period, the robot will follow pre-programmed instructions to score as many goals as possible for double points. Then the student drivers step in for the Teleoperated Period, and the disks really start to fly.

Since the various school alliances are randomly selected each round, cooperation and gracious professionalism are expected.

”FIRST isn’t about competing, it’s about cooperating and recognizing that if you have the right tools, you’ll be able to make this world a better place for yourself and for the country,” said Dean Kamen, the president of DEKA Research and Development and FIRST founder.

Despite their initial incredulity, after a day of reading the manual and brainstorming ideas RHS Nemesis Team 2590 members returned to the Robbinsville High School Technology Lab with high hopes for the design and build season. The next few weeks will be filled with lots of hard work, but when the robot is finally complete, all of those long hours will be worthwhile.

Game on!

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Holiday Food Drive


The Robbinsville FIRST Robotics team, Nemesis, and the Sharon School collected an impressive 1,749 food items for the Robbinsville Food Pantry. Four minivans and one car load of food was collected was dropped off at the Senior Center. The winner, Mrs. Martin's 1st grade class, donated 342 food items to win a pizza party at Mannino's Three on December 5, along with a custom made plaque designed and engraved by Michael Filipek during his Digital Fabrication class. The high school students and parents picked up the donations, sorted, tallied and stocked the Robbinsville Food Pantry shelves. The food drive project was lead by Samantha Young, Stephanie Kovacs, Erica Falk, Uddhav Joglekar and Kiera Wolfe. 

Also, the Robbinsville Extended Day (R.E.D.) program just completed a holiday food drive at Sharon School, where the children amassed nearly 500 cans for the Lifetree Community Church Food Bank. Pantries throughout the state have been depleted by Hurricane Sandy and Thanksgiving, so all donations are meaningful at this time so please help if you can.

 

 

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Discovery Day 2012


THE ROBBINSVILLE ADVANCE

On Saturday, December 8th and Sunday, December 9th, Robbinsville High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 2590 hosted their annual Robotics Discovery Day. Over 80 kids between second and fifth grade came to the high school Technology Lab to learn about engineering and design from team members and mentors.

“Discovery Day allows these kids to imagine what they want and then hold it in their hands. No instruction, no restrictions, we allow them to craft their ideas into reality with help from experienced members. A child can visualize their dream car, and then drive it down the hallway in less than an hour. We’re opening their minds to the world of engineering,” says Mrs. Joy Wolfe, robotics team advisor and high school technology teacher.

Discovery Day is the team’s largest fundraise, financing out of state competitions and many tools and parts the team needs to compete. This session celebrates the 4th year of the program, with a new and exciting challenge each year. In the past, students created robots that could swim underwater, fight each other in a sumo ring, follow a line using light sensors, and more. This year, less experienced or younger students created “drag racer” cars they could control with a remote and race for the best time.

The older students made catapults using LEGO Mindstorms building kits, competing to see who could launch a LEGO piece the farthest. Antonio’s group met the most success, launching their LEGO piece over 4 feet! Not to be outdone, Uddhav’s group worked hard to build their own powerful catapult. When it came time to launch, the mighty catapult launched a LEGO piece… 6 inches. Though not all the launches were met with the expected success, the kids had a great time building their very own creations.

Leader Boards were posted in the front of the classroom, updating rankings and allowing teams to compare times. Each group of 2 or 3 kids also drove the team’s latest competition robot, “Prince”, capable of picking up foam basketballs and shooting them into baskets.

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Another Year, Another Crazy Season


Nemesis is back for its sixth year, busily preparing for the upcoming 2013 build season. We sent fourteen members off to college this past fall and successfully recruited a plethora of fresh, new faces throughout September and October.

Due to Hurricane Sandy, our schedule has been rather hectic, trying to get prepared before winter hits. Some of us are writing "Thank You" letters to send to our very gracious sponsors—it’s always important to remember who helped us get to where we are today. Also, the Marketing Team will be helping the Scout Team this Saturday, gathering information as Nemesis competes in the XI Brunswick Eruption. In addition, we are collaborating with Sharon Elementary School to collect cans for Team 2590’s annual food drive. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up—in addition to the unfortunate weather issues just a few weeks ago—many families will be in need of some holiday grub. Finally, Discovery Day, our robotics camp for second through fifth graders, is also just around the corner.

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Siemens Aids Nemesis with Generous Donation


Team Nemesis “graciously accepted” a generous grant from world-renowned corporation, Siemens USA, located in Princeton. Mr. Morales—the neighbor of team member, Ralph—sent a request to help support Nemesis.

 Siemens Corporate Technology contributes more than $7 million annually to aid educational ventures in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields on a national scale. Their latest program, The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, promotes to create ideas to diminish environmental issues with the help of students from grades K-12. As a technology-based company, Siemens encourages local robotics programs to educate students in STEM Research. Their mission is to “respond to the most challenging questions of our time in the Industry, Energy and Healthcare sectors.” They pioneer in energy efficiency, industrial productivity, affordable healthcare, and intelligent infrastructure solutions—attaining high performance and excellent results.

 This wonderful sponsorship grant will assist with costs for materials for the robot as well as competitions we plan to attend—such as the Montreal Regional and the Mid-Atlantic Regionals. We appreciate this opportunity to achieve greater things with the help of Siemens.

 For more information about Siemens Corporation, please visit http://usa.siemens.com

 

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Nemesis Heads to Indiana


Indiana. The 19th state admitted to the union and home to the Indiana Robotics Invitational, known to the rest of us as IRI. The Nemesis robotics team traveled all the way from their cozy homes in New Jersey on a 12 hour car ride in mid summer to Indianapolis where this competition was being held. After arriving at 6:30-ish on  Thursday evening, the first thing to do was unpack. The robot and all of the supplies needed to leave the tightly packed U-haul and enter the pit. Everything needed to be set for the competition that started early the next morning. But the robot wasn't completely ready yet. Eric was coding on the way up to the competition and this code needed to be tested. That was enough for day one.  For some, the night ended with a dip in the pool. For others, it was pizza, but everyone was excited for the competition the next day.

In my opinion, Day 2 in Indianapolis began a little too early. The entire team was up and out early in the morning. The team arrived for some practice rounds and not everything was running as smoothly as one would have hoped. Eric's coding was working but the autonomous mode was having issues. The autonomous mode didn't actually work until right before our first match. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the members of the team, the robot was ready for the first match of the qualifying rounds.

The first day of the competition was full of excitement. IRI was going great. It was win after win after win. Everything was running smoothly. Prince was on a roll. Of course it was apparent that Indianapolis was a little different than New Jersey. It was a good different. There was a corn shack for concessions where anyone could buy grilled corn on the husk, and believe me it was delicious. The price list listed something called "Pop" for $1.50. What is this pop these people speak of? And where can I buy myself a nice can of soda? It was an all around a good time. The drive team was working their magic on the field, those in the pit were keeping the robot in great condition, and those of us in the stands were enjoying the matches and doing a bit of scouting. During the qualifying matches Nemesis triple balanced. Our competition day ended with 5 wins and 1 loss. After the day's matches all of the teams were treated to a dinner provided by the IRI volunteers. That night, the team spent a long while discussing potential alliances because from that day's standings it looked like we might be an alliance captain.

It was Day 3 in Indianapolis and Nemesis had 3 more qualifying matches to compete in. If they kept their standings they would be alliance captains. Out of the three matches Nemesis lost one, giving us a 7-2 record by the time of alliance selection. Team 2590 ended qualifying rounds in 7th. Place.  Eric was given the alliance captain hat and picking began. 2590 teamed up with team 973 and 548 as well as team 1538 as their backup. During the break, the robot needed a bit of fixing after some damage was done in a previous match. Also, the three teams practiced triple balancing.  Elimination rounds started and the first match didn't end in favor of the Nemesis alliance. Almost  immediately one of the robots malfunctioned, resulting in  a dead robot for that round. Nemesis and their alliance lost but not by a lot. With a full alliance, a win was definitely within our reach.  We were all ready for Nemesis and their alliance partners to come back and take the next match for their own, but tragedy struck at the beginning of autonomous mode. Nemesis' shooter jammed. Without Nemesis' shooter, vital points could not be made. To add to that, a robot from the other alliance rammed 548,  sending the robot to its untimely death. We lost that match too. The alliance was no longer in the running for winning IRI.

 Alas, the members of Nemesis still had a great time on their trip to Indianapolis. Despite not winning, they still put up a great fight and came farther than they thought possible. 7th place isn't bad for a team that came to Indiana in the hopes of being a 2rd or 3th round draft choice. The last full day ended with a failed attempt to get seated at Dave and Buster's (2 hour wait: No thank you) and a nice little Chinese Buffet complete with perfect fortunes, funky Fro-Yo, and a ton of fun. Overall, Indianapolis was a great trip. It gave the seniors a last hurrah. The only thing no one really was looking forward to was the 12 hour car ride home...

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2012 St. Louis World Championship Reflection


As I enter the St. Louis Convention Center for the first time on Thursday morning, the magnitude of the event is overwhelming. Teams yelling “Robot! Make way” are heading to the competition field, a few teams are carrying toolboxes to the pits, and a group of students sporting Mohawks are heading to the stands. I head to the pits to meet up with my team and enter a sea of 400 FRC teams and at least as many FTC and FLL teams. The morning is spent in the pits checking all robot systems, deploying new code, and running practice matches. We have our first qualification matches that day.

The next morning every team heads into the stands of the Edward Jones Dome for opening ceremonies. The scale of the competition is enormous with four division fields and a champions’ field occupying the floor of the dome. Bright lights glare down onto the fields and walkways between fields are empty of their usual robot traffic. Dean Kamen, an inventor and the founder of FIRST, steps up onto a stage at one end of the stadium. He speaks about the future of the country, the need for a new generation of engineers and scientists who will create new wealth, and the role of FIRST in doing so. He is not an extraordinary speaker, but the gravity of his speech and the conviction in his eyes are compelling. He ends his speech and the stadium erupts into cheers, then exits to prepare for the upcoming matches.

Competition is intense; between matches the pit crew changes the battery, scouts compile match data of teams, the drive team—which I am part of—talks about strategy with other teams for the upcoming match, and the robot gets tested on the practice field. Then it is time to queue and we roll the robot cart out to the Archimedes division field. Our robot has to endure nine qualification matches and then either be in the top eight teams or be selected by one of the top eight teams to advance to division eliminations. Because the matches consist of alliances of three robots, a total of 24 will make it to eliminations.

The matches are fast-paced, only 2 minutes and 15 seconds long, and our team does well. However, during some matches the robot misses shots and afterwards we take time on the practice field to recalibrate. Meanwhile the scouting team is recording match data and will later compile a list of teams to pick or to try to be picked by. Later in the day, the judges walk by. I tell the technical judges about every aspect of the robot: the drive train, the conveyor, the turret, the camera target tracking, and the dashboard.   They are very interested in our tracking system and targeting display. At the same time, the marketing and finance teams explain to the business judges that our team is run like a high-tech startup and hand out copies of the business plan.

All day long the pits are a sea of multicolored shirts; team members walk around the pits to get a look at the perfectly machined robots of some of the elite teams, underclassmen stop at pits to collect pins that teams hand out, mascots are escorted around by a couple team members, and robot carts roll through aisles on their way to the dome.

By the end of Friday, we are all exhausted, but there is still more work to do at the hotel. The scouts, senior team members, and a couple of mentors file into my room to log the day’s scouting data into a Google Doc. It is clear who the elite teams are, and though we are not one of them we are a consistent scorer and have a chance to go far in the competition. Later, after a fun pillow fight I go to sleep; tomorrow is going to be a long day.

On Saturday morning we have our last two qualification matches. Strong performances—especially in the last match—propel our team to sixth place, not bad for a field of 100 teams. After our team realizes this we scramble to finalize the pick list. Then the announcer calls the top eight teams onto the field and I walk on to represent Nemesis. The top teams pick each other and when it comes my turn to pick our top pick is still available. I select team 1218, our friends from Pennsylvania. They had a couple tough breaks that kept them out of the top eight and they are a steal for the sixth pick. As the draft serpentines around, I talk with 1218’s representative and we decide on 2851, a team with decent autonomous, good defense, and the ability to triple balance.

The draft ends and I look at our quarterfinal opponents; one of them is last year’s world champion. Despite this we think we can win because the rest of the alliance isn’t as strong. I walk off the field and head back to the pits to help the pit crew bring the robot, batteries, and tools to the field. Once the double elimination matches start there will be no time to go back to the pits.

Eventually our match is on and I am finally behind the glass waiting to drive. The announcer introduces our team and our section of the stands erupts into cheers. “Three, two, one, GO!” The match starts and our team pulls ahead by a huge lead. The best robot on the other team is not working and we win handily. For the second match however, the robot is fixed and the other alliance wins by one point; it’s onto a third deciding match. Our team wins by a solid margin, breathes a sigh of relief, and prepares for the semifinals.

Our whole alliance knows how tough these next matches will be. We are against the second-seed alliance, which consists of two of the best robots in the world. Our whole alliance puts in our best effort, and despite triple balancing—a feat not many robots have completed—we cannot overcome the offensive power of these teams. They defeat us and go on to win the division.

Our team is satisfied with a solid performance, making it farther than we ever have before, and heads to the stands to watch the Einstein field of division champions. The matches are exciting, and when they are over confetti fills the air to celebrate the winners. Though we didn’t win, our team feels like winners. And I realize that is what FIRST is about: not winning or losing, but learning and celebrating technology and engineering.

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