Sounds of gears turning and motors being tested can once again be heard as students from Harlingen High School, Harlingen High School South and Early College High School prepare to compete in a contest that will test their mathematics, presentation and critical thinking skills.
Engineering classes and clubs are gearing up for 2014 RGV Boosting Engineering, Science & Technology (BEST) Robotics High School Competition on Saturday, October 24 at Texas State Technical College.
Currently, team members are hard at work, putting the final touches on their robots for competition. BEST is restricted to a six-week period to allow students the palpable intensity that engineers undergo as a result of time constraints.
All students are presented with the same challenge and are given the same set of tools to work with for the contest. Specifications are defined for students and sponsors on Kick Off Day.
“We go to a kickoff every year, and officials present what the course is going to be about and our goal, said Elijah Drysdale ECHS team vice president. “At kickoff they also outline expectations, rules, and the safety regulations. Then they take all of the information from that session and post it online so that teams can refer to it as they prepare their designs.”
The competition is broken up into several parts – games in which the robots go head-to-head, exhibit presentation, and marketing presentation.
“The team members who help build the robot write notes as they go along,” said Cecilia Zebrowski. “That’s where we put all of our information, all our measurements, what our design is like, and the brainstorming process. What we’re trying to do is sell a product as if we are a company and there’s someone who’s looking for that product. In essence, were trying to sell the robot to the judges.”
“This year, our theme is wind energy, and the ultimate objective is to build and complete a wind turbine,” said Alexia Carmona HHS team president. “Of course, there are some complications along the way. For example, we will have to relocate some chickens (PVC pipes), and travel across a bridge or damaged road. So each team needs to devise a way to complete the task as efficiently as possible.”
The top three teams of the competition will be awarded the BEST Award, which is presented to teams that best embody the spirit of “boosting” engineering, science, and technology. Winners advance to the Texas BEST regional competition held each year at The University of Texas at Dallas.
“I like this competition because it’s very fair,” said Paul Tenison HHS engineering teacher. “Every team has the same materials, and the same amount of time; everyone is given the objective at the same time. It’s not just building the robot, but it’s marketing, presentation skills, and displays. It involves a lot of electronics and mechanical parts. It’s an excellent competition to illustrate what engineers do.”
To kick off the week leading to the BEST Competition, the HCISD Public Relations/Community Engagement Department will host its third Annual Robot Week. The week will showcase engineering students, their hard work and their robots. Highlights can be found on HCISD’s website, Facebook page and television station KHGN, starting on October 20.
The BEST program is committed to get kids motivated for studies and careers in engineering, science and technology and introduce them to some of the engineering/scientific methods through mentoring by industry professionals and real hands-on experience. Real-world scenarios are demonstrated while providing an exciting and fun sports-like competition.