Student ‘bot builders to battle in BEST competition

Students from 15 area schools will bring their robot building A-game to campus next weekend for the Grove City College BEST Robotics competition presented by Elliott Group.

The annual event tests middle- and high-school students’ problem-solving abilities and engineering skills while encouraging students to find the fun in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

With supplies provided by sponsors – including the Elliott Group, a Jeannette, Pa.-based company that designs, manufacturers and services turbomachinery for a global clientele – student teams design and build robotic devices to accomplish specific missions in a game-day scenario.

This year the builders are faced with a challenge of tearing things down, according to Grove City College Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Dr. Mike Bright, who also serves as president of the national BEST Robotics board of directors.

“The game is ‘Demo Daze’ and it focuses on the use of robots to demolish structures and clean up a construction site. The robot has to deal with waste, recyclable items and reusable items.  It has to provide security to the site.  There are a lot of pieces this year, so teams have many choices of strategy,” Bright said.

The field includes student teams from Altoona, Bishop Canevin, Christian Life Academy, Clarion, Cornerstone, Cranberry Area, Creative Learning Christian School, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Dubois, Family Instructors of the Northern Suburbs, Franklin, Mentor Christian School, Reedemer Lutheran, Riverside and Union.

Grove City College BEST Robotics begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22 when BEST teams make marketing presentations detailing their robot’s design, construction and mission during a trade show-like event in the College’s IM Room in the Physical Learning Center (PLC).

Game Day is 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23 in the Arena of the PLC, where the action is more sporting event than science fair. The competition typically draws a crowd of students and parents to cheer on the ‘bot builders as they try to complete the game more quickly, efficiently and elegantly than their peers.

Grove City College supports BEST Robotics to provide high- and middle-school students an opportunity to learn more about engineering and technology and enables them to see that in addition to the design work, engineering also involves marketing, teamwork and detailed documentation. Hosting the competition also enables hundreds of students to visit and experience the Grove City College campus and interact with student volunteers who staff the competition.

"We want to ensure that our students and partners continue to engage in multifaceted training and free project-based-STEM-learning for the future. The future of our economy, growth of industry  and higher education depend on securing our students' pathway to STEM employment," Bright said.

Winners will have the opportunity to advance to the BEST regional championships in Denver, Colo.

BEST Robotics is seeking local volunteers to assist with the event. Volunteers are needed from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. To volunteer or for more information, contact Stephanie Adams at adamsSG@gcc.edu.

Student ‘bot builders to battle in BEST competition

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