Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Flour Bluff, Calallen and Harlingen High School teams finish on top at BEST Robotics competition day

KINGSVILLE - November 02, 2006

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

robotsHundreds of students from 15 different middle schools and high schools came to Texas A&M University-Kingsville on Saturday, Oct. 28, with hand-made robots that could hang wet laundry and pick up dry laundry from a clothesline.

Why?

The reason was to participate in the Coastal Bend level of a nationwide competition from BEST Robotics Inc., a nonprofit, volunteer organization which stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology. The mission of the organization is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like science and engineering-based robotics competition.

Each year’s competition is centered around a theme. This year, the theme was “Laundry Quandary,” under which participants design their robot, as well as a supporting oral presentation, team T-shirt, public display and web page.

Teams spent six weeks on the project, building a radio-controlled robot from a supply kit provided by A&M-Kingsville’s Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering back on Sept. 16. On competition day, held Oct. 28, the robots contended with each other in a series of three-minute, round robin matches to judge their performance, and supporting material also was taken into account.

By the end of the day, the top three teams named were from Flour Bluff, Calallen and Harlingen High Schools.  

These three will take their creations to the state-level BEST competition, scheduled for Dec. 1-2 at Texas Tech University. The top teams also received $1,000 scholarships to A&M-Kingsville if they enroll in engineering as a new freshman in the future.

The other schools that competed in the competition included:

Port Aransas High School; Bruni High School; Gregory-Portland High School; Tuloso-Midway Middle School; George West High School; Raymondville High School; Pan American High School; Harlingen South High School; La Joya Senior High School; San Benito High School; Edinburg High School; and the Laredo Magnet School.

Executive director of the A&M-Kingsville effort is Sheryl Custer, who also serves as executive assistant to the dean of the College of Engineering. She noted the enthusiasm of all those who volunteered their time to put the event together. “Everyone who was asked to either serve as a team captain or to volunteer as a judge did so without any hesitation. Moreover, I truly believe that everyone had a great time and they were really excited about seeing the enthusiasm of the kids who were participating.

“I was also amazed at the number of student volunteers who participated.  I know that they were all busy with their studies, and many gave up their day to help out.  I am truly grateful for their willingness to serve.”

A&M-Kingsville will continue to serve as the hub site for the BEST Robotics Competition. Custer said that a meeting of the local board of directors has already taken place, going over this year’s event, and that next year’s competition plans start in earnest in January 2007.

Looking back at this year’s BEST events, Custer hopes that the student participants took away more than a trophy. “I hope that each student was able to learn how to not only develop their critical thinking, problem solving and creativity skills, but to communicate those skills as well. This was the first time for many of these to compete in something such as this, and I feel that all of our schools accomplished this task.”


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