South's BEST Robotics championship taking place at Auburn Dec. 2-3

Published: Nov 29, 2017 3:00:00 PM
Media Contact: Chris Anthony, chris.anthony@auburn.edu, 334.844.3447

The public will have an opportunity to witness the enthusiastic, sports-like environment surrounding BEST Robotics at the 2017 South’s BEST championship at Auburn University in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 2 and 3. The championship will feature the top 54 teams from five southeastern states.

South's BEST 2016

Answering the nation’s need for more and better-prepared workers in scientific, industrial and technological fields, BEST, which stands for “Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology,” is a middle school and high school robotics program, now in its 25th year nationally and 17th year in Alabama. BEST Robotics is the only robotics program in the nation that is offered to schools at no cost. 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 hosted by Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

During the championship, teams will compete in a series of head-to-head matches on a playing field designed for this year’s game titled, “Crossfire.” The concept behind this year’s game is to explore robot intervention in industrial fire emergencies. The teams are tasked with designing and building a prototype robot to rescue a fire test manikin, contain the dangerous chemicals, and extinguish the flames during a three-minute match.

In addition to robot performance, teams will 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.

“BEST works because students are the sole participants and primary decision-makers, designers and builders for the competition,” said Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach for the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn University. “BEST is successful because students have an opportunity to interact with industry leaders, technical professionals and engineers who act as mentors, guiding them through the challenges they face while designing, building, promoting and competing in the BEST Robotics program. Students gain skills and hone talents they will use as members of the future workforce, including abstract thought, self-directed learning, teamwork, project management, decision making, problem solving and leadership.”

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; to prepare students to be technologically literate and thus better prepared to enter the workforce; to help students develop leadership, project management, teamwork and organizational skills; and to develop confidence and competence.

BEST Robotics at Auburn University is part of the Southeastern Center of Robotics Education, or SCORE, a new, innovative Auburn University outreach initiative designed to more effectively develop and deliver robotics education to K-12 students and teachers. The SCORE program centralizes the robotics education activities in Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics, College of Engineering and Auburn University Aviation Center, and provides a mechanism for growth in the area of robotics education outreach. The SCORE initiative is the only center of its kind in the country.

More information on South’s BEST, including a detailed game description and championship schedule, can be found at the website at www.southsbest.org. The complete competition schedule can be found at http://www.southsbest.org/files/handbook/general-information/Championship%20Schedule.pdf.

- Written by Candis Birchfield of the College of Sciences and Mathematics