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COSAM Hosts South’s BEST Robotics Competition

Published: 01/23/2015

The College of Sciences and Mathematics, along with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the College of Architecture, Design, and Construction, hosted the South’s BEST, or Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, robotics championship at Auburn University in December.

BEST Robotics is a national robotics program for middle and high school students that culminates in one of three regional championships, including South’s BEST. The South’s BEST championship is headquartered at Auburn University and features the top 56 teams from multiple states, including Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

This year, Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., received the first-place BEST Award, which is the highest award presented at the competition and is given to teams that most embody the concept and spirit of the competition. Winners of the award are judged on a combination of project engineering notebook, marketing presentation, team exhibit and interview, and team spirit and sportsmanship.

Wetumpka High School from Wetumpka, Ala., received the second-place BEST award, and Brooks High School from Killen, Ala., received the third-place BEST Award.

South’s BEST is a regional championship that is part of the national BEST Robotics program. During the championship, teams compete in a series of head-to-head matches on a playing field. Each year, the playing field is designed to match a specific theme. This year’s game was titled, “Bladerunner.” The theme behind Bladerunner was to design a vehicle that could transport large wind turbines without negatively affecting America’s transportation system. The robots had to obtain over-size-over-weight vehicle permits prior to transport as well as navigate a transportation path that traveled through an area designated as “environmentally sensitive” due to the presence of a prairie chicken habitat. The prairie chicken is an endangered species, and part of the game involved moving the prairie chickens to an alternative habitat. Additionally, each BEST team was allowed to establish an agreement with a neighboring team, providing competitors an opportunity to work together with a mix of parts on the small and large turbines.

Merroll Hyde Magnet School from Hendersonville, Tenn., won first-place in the robotics game competition, and Evangel Christian School from Alabaster, Ala., and MACH Robotics from Mobile, Ala., received second and third place in the robotics competition, respectively.

In addition to robot performance, each year teams compete to receive awards in other categories, such as engineering design notebook, marketing presentation, team exhibit, interview, team spirit and sportsmanship. Awards are given based on criteria, such as demonstrated teamwork, a positive attitude and enthusiasm, school and community involvement, and creativity.

Now in its 22nd year nationally, the BEST Robotics program is available to all schools at no cost. BEST Robotics is the third-largest educational robotics program in the nation and is the only one that is free to schools. The not-for-profit, all-volunteer program challenges students to design, build and market a robot to use in a six-week-long series of competitions, culminating in the South’s BEST championship.

The primary objective of the BEST Robotics program is to: provide students with a real-world engineering experience that incorporates the practical application of math and science; prepare students to be technologically literate and thus better prepared to enter the workforce; help students develop leadership, project management, teamwork and organizational skills; and develop confidence and competence.

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