FRC Team 1923: The MidKnight Inventors, was founded in the fall of 2005 at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North by Libby Kamen with help from the late Dr. Bart Kamen and his wife Dr. Ruth Kamen.
As a rookie team, 1923 received new team grant funding from NASA for the first two years. Parents as well as volunteer mentors from The College of New Jersey and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab helped sustain the team through these critical early years. The team built the robot in a garage due to little funding and lack of interest from the community. The team received little funding and had no sponsors until 2009, when we won our first FRC regional and made our way to the front-page news.
In the 2009 season, after being noticed by the school district, the team was able to expand to accept students from our other district high school. Students from these rival schools now had to leave their differences by the door and unify in order to successfully build a robot and compete year after year. Passionate mentors and parents continue to donate countless hours to the team, chaperoning, providing food and transportation, and always encouraging the students.
1923 has gained sponsors, setting up a sponsorship level system and assigning stacking rewards to each category to serve as incentives for prospective supporters. Our team now operates at a budget of around $60,000 each year, fundraised entirely via our dedicated Finance and Outreach subteams. The MidKnight Inventors have used their accumulated resources to launch community outreach programs and FIRST teams at every level within the school district. By creating this ‘feeder program’ of bright young minds experiencing the FIRST program, our FRC team has grown to over 110 students for the 2014-15 season. We also reach out to support and collaborate with other teams both in New Jersey and outside of our region, sharing resources and best practices & creating new alliances. Our outreach plan even spans across the world; traveling to teach about FIRST to schools in South Africa, Switzerland, and even starting FIRST teams in India.
For the 2012 season and onward, the team received an advisor, a paid employee of the district (who is also a parent of a team alum!). The district provides us transportation for competition and has named us a co-curricular activity – meaning that our activities fall in line with the school’s mission statement – but has still not yet recognized the team as a school sport. The MidKnight Inventor students strive to attain that status within our school district, for the FRC program has been commonly touted ‘the varsity sport for the mind’.
In our 10-year history, The Midknight Inventors have established a strong, sustainable program with a strong network of support in the community. We hope you’ll join us in tracking our successes, our progress, and our impact on the community as we look towards another 10 years in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District.