The Lenape Regional High School District encompasses eight municipalities and covers 158,749 acres. Located in the Pinelands, the Lenape Regional High School District includes roughly one-third of Burlington County, New Jersey. Students attending the district come from Evesham, Medford, Mt. Laurel, Shamong, Southampton, Tabernacle, Woodland and Medford Lakes. The Lenape District’s four high schools are Lenape, Shawnee, Cherokee, and Seneca. Students from Mount Laurel attend Lenape; students from Medford and Medford Lakes attend Shawnee; students from Evesham (Marlton) attend Cherokee, while students from Tabernacle, Shamong, Southampton and Woodland attend Seneca.
The Iron Devils (FRC Team 1647) were created during the 2004-2005 school year, shortly after the District opened Seneca High School. Lockheed Martin contacted the administration at Seneca High School and inquired whether the high school would be interested in creating a partnership to develop a FIRST Robotics Team. The administration was extremely enthusiastic about piloting such a worthy program and the Iron Devils, composed solely of students from Seneca High School, competed in 2005. The relationship between the Iron Devils and Lockheed Martin continues to this day. Lockheed Martin provides the team with engineering expertise and mentors, along with financial supports for the robot kit and competition entry fees.
The district made the decision to expand participation to any student attending the district the following year to allow all students in the district to participate in the FIRST program. That policy continued through the 2008 season. The district’s commitment to the program included providing bus transportation between Seneca High School and the other three high schools in order to remove transportation barriers for students who wished to participate in the program. A number of Iron Devils have graduated with FIRST scholarships and approximately 75% of the students who participate in the robotics program at the Lenape Regional High School District will go on to study engineering and related fields after graduation from high school. Additionally, the attention and publicity surrounding the robotics program has resulted in a greater appreciation for the fields of Science, Technology and Engineering from the community.
What makes the Iron Devils Special?
The strength of the Iron Devils lies in its inability to rest on its laurels. Each year, the Iron Devils look to be design innovators and to build a better robot. The team is honored to have won a number of technical awards over the past three years, including the GM Industrial Design Award at the Philadelphia Regional in both 2010 and 2011, the Xerox Creativity Award at the New Jersey Regional in 2011, and the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award at Hatboro-Horasham in 2012.
The team also knows that being a leader means more than just finding success on the playing field. The Iron Devils actively look for ways to strengthen STEM education through our community outreach. The team makes numerous presentations each year to introduce people to FIRST and to encourage other students to become excited about STEM education. The team was honored to be the only FRC team invited to the New Jersey School Board Association’s Convention in October 2012 and October 2013, where they gave presentations to participants in an effort to raise awareness about not onlyFIRST, but the importance of STEM education. The team hosts an annual Pancake Breakfast with the Robot for local students, and works with local community members to spread the word about FIRST.
The Iron Devils were asked to host the first FIRST Robotics Competition in South Jersey in March of 2012. Members of the Iron Devils put in countless hours working with Mid-Atlantic Robotics to prepare the facilities for the event and to staff it with volunteers who would make sure that the thirty-eight (38) teams who were competing would have a fun and exciting weekend of competition. The team invited our community to come and see all of these teams in action. The competition was such a success that the Iron Devils were again honored to be asked to host competitions in 2013 and 2014.
Why we are called the Iron Devils
The name Iron Devils was chosen to represent key historical features from our communities. The Iron in our name comes from the Batso Iron Works which supplied the Continental Army with a variety of products for use during the Revolutionary War. The Devil comes from the Jersey Devil, who allegedly makes his home in the Pinelands of New Jersey and has haunted the area for more than 260 years. Many stories have been told on behalf of or on account of the Devil.
The Iron Devils are fortunate to have an administration and school board who realize the impact and benefits of the robotics program for those student who participate on the Iron Devils team.
The team was fortunate to have had an ardent supporter of the Iron Devils and Lenape Regional Robotics (LRR) in Mrs. Emily Capella, the district’s Superintendent when the Iron Devils were formed. Realizing the positive impact that FIRST Robotics was having our the students in our district and in an effort to expand the number of opportunities available for participation in the FIRST program, the district agreed to create a second robotics team within the district for the 2009 season. The students attending Shawnee High School and Seneca High School would continue on as the Iron Devils (FRC Team 1647). The new robotics team would be comprised of the students attending Lenape High School and Cherokee High School. This new team has become known as STORM Robotics (FRC Team 2729). The Iron Devils agreed to serve as mentors for our sister schools’ rookie team for the 2009 season.
When Mid-Atlantic Robotics was formed and started to look for sites to host district events for the 2012 season. The Iron Devils were thrilled when asked to host a district event at Seneca High School and viewed this as an amazing opportunity to spread the word of FIRST to South Jersey, who had never had a local FRC event. The Lenape Regional High School District and Seneca High School both agreed to the event and embraced the FRC community with their wholehearted support. Mrs. Capella retired from the Lenape Regional High School District in 2012. The Iron Devils are thrilled to have the support of our new superintendent, Dr. Carol Birnbohm.
The Iron Devils are thrilled that Mid-Atlantic Robotics recognized the supportive environment for our event and has once again scheduled a district event at Seneca High School. The sixth Seneca FIRST Robotics District Competition is scheduled for March 24-26, 2017 in Tabernacle, NJ. Team members are already hard at work to make this year’s event even more exciting than last years!