The Boosting Engineering Science and Technology (BEST) Robotics competition took place Saturday, Oct. 20, at Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater. This year’s theme was Outer Space, which sparked tons of creative robots. A record 13 area schools participated in the Big Country BEST Competition hosted by Texas State Technical College West Texas this year. Winners of the Oct. 20, competition will move on to regionals.
The 2012 participating schools included Clyde High School, Clyde Junior High, Robert Lee, Roscoe Collegiate, Highland, Jim Ned, Comanche High, Comanche Junior High, ATEMS, Sweetwater High School, Sweetwater Middle School, Rising Star and Gustine.
If you are curious about a robotics competition, you are not alone. New to scholastic competition in recent years, robotics competitions are growing quickly and for good reason. Sweetwater proudly has two teams; one representing Sweetwater High School and one representing Sweetwater Middle School. Sweetwater Middle School’s robotics team recently shared an inside look at some of the endeavors and challenges that local robotics teams overcome.
Sweetwater Middle School put together a typical team, if such exists in the world of robotics competition. The team was made of two groups with specific tasks and deadlines. The SMS team consists of the engineering and marketing teams. In addition to the steep engineering challenge of building a robot from scratch, the teams must present a marketing and exhibition plan and achievements as part of the competition. The SMS marketing team shared the following offensive and defensive overview with the Sweetwater Reporter.
"Going through the scoring sheet, we were planning the different points we would like to achieve. For the marketing team some points they were trying to achieve were: organization, evidence of a budget and the achieved goal of marketing the company's "product". There are some achievements for spirit and sportsmanship category; use of signs, posters and t-shirts, exhibit vigor and enthusiasm throughout the competition and organized noise makers."
"The S.M.S. Robotics team had to do a lot of brainstorming. In order to get the idea for the robot, we had to discuss and agree. For the t-shirts, we agreed on the colt/cyborg because the theme of our team and the BEST theme is Outer Space Warp XX. We also agreed on the motto of our team, 'this is only the start', because space technology is gradually progressing."
The competition is structured so that the student teams are faced with the challenge of building a successfully functioning robot in an entrepreneurial or business fashion. As any good business operators might do, the SMS team employed the guidance and assistance of Sweetwater’s most technologically advanced business, Ludlum Measurements, Inc. LMI engineer, Tim Monday eagerly agreed to help the students leading the team in brainstorming and drafting sessions. Monday told the Sweetwater Reporter that, “When you consider the way these students master all the new technology we’re bombarded with you can see that their problem solving skills are really advanced.”
The marketing team called on LMI marketing specialist, Mitch Moore to help with meeting their goals. Moore added that, “The marketing team impressed me with what they already knew. I’ve been excited to help because they’re a really fun bunch to be around. But aside from some details I’ve learned through experience, the team had already tackled the hard part, which from my experience is the creative process.”
The marketing team drafted a sketch of the logo they wanted to use and Mitch Moore refined it using the Adobe Creative Suite Software. “It was like working for professional business clients. The team had great ideas and sketches so I just brought things to life. Then we called on the Sweetwater Kiwanis Club for help in funding the team shirts. Always willing to help children, the Kiwanis Club came through with a wonderful contribution and we were able to employ some networking and come up with great looking shirts.”
Mitch Moore introduced the team to Donna Parker, the creative force behind Designs By Donna. Designs By Donna, operating in Sweetwater’s new Mustang247 collective uses dye sublimation to produce full color, high resolution promotional products and outerwear. The SMS marketing team was excited to present their engineering for the competition.
The engineering team overcame logistical challenges for the competition. So just how does this competition work? The students build a robot that they control remotely to achieve specific tasks. This year the robot ascended a metal bar while picking up object from one location and depositing them in another location. The objects vary in size and nature. If you’ve never seen a robotics competition, it’s simply a fantastic event, a must-see. Seeing the successful culmination of the team’s efforts is amazing. The BEST competitions truly speak to the future, and the students in Sweetwater were obviously ready for the challenge. Sweetwater’s Talented Academics & Robotics Team (START) from SMS could not have chosen a better slogan when they state, “this is just the START”.