Ground Zero for Newbies
Where, oh where to start? Though I find it hard to believe, occasionally I run into people and robots who have never heard of BEST. (Yes, I’m a bit clumsy and a bit assuming.) Others that I encounter may have a vague idea about what BEST is, but don’t grasp the peculiarities of the program. So, let me start this blog with a post to give us all a common point of reference…ground zero.
What is BEST?
BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology.
The mission of BEST is to engage, excite, and inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, and technology through participation in a sports-like science- and engineering-based robotics competition.
Goals of the Program
- Inspire student interest in engineering, science, and technology
- Motivate students to pursue careers in these fields
- Engage students in exciting, fun science-based activity
- Enlist business/industry to become collaborative educational partners
- There is no entrance or participation fee for schools to compete in BEST.
- Teams of any size can enter. The school dictates student eligibility requirements. The school dictates the schedule for team meetings.
- Students have six weeks to design and build a remotely controlled robot that outperforms other robots in a head-to-head game-like competition.
- Engineers and other technical professionals from industry serve as team mentors who advise and guide students through the design and construction of their machines.
- The program mirrors a full product development cycle from concept through head-to-head evaluation (i.e., competition).
- Each team designs and builds a radio-controlled machine (supplemented with micro-controlled capabilities) to accomplish defined tasks in a game-type format. Teams receive identical kits of equipment (e.g., microcontroller, motors, batteries, etc.) and raw materials (e.g., plywood, PVC pipe and connectors, screws, bolts, nuts, glue, etc.) from which to build their machines.
- Besides the design of the machine, each team is encouraged to pursue other activities related to product development such as technical writing, sales and marketing, and public relations. Teams that are outstanding across all areas have a chance to win the BEST Award…the most prestigious award given for a team that truly grasps the product development principles and the concept of Boosting Engineering Science and Technology.
There are three significant local events during the six-week period. (Some teams will advance to regional competition.)
- Kick Off Day (early to mid September)
- Game theme, game rules, and playing field are unveiled
- Returnables kit (r/c units, batteries, motors, etc.) distributed to teams
- Consumables kit (loose parts, PVC, plywood, etc.) distributed to teams
- The six-week design and construction phase begins!
- Mall Day (end of fifth week of competition)
- Opportunity for teams to practice driving robots on actual playing field
- “P.R.” opportunity to promote program and competition
- Hub Competition (end of sixth week of competition)
- BEST Award competition (optional participation for schools)
- Robotics competition
- Other awards and recognition
Outstanding teams at the Hub Competition advance to Regional BEST Competition (mid-November).
Where is BEST?
Back in 1993, BEST was conceived in Sherman, Texas by two Texas Instruments engineers: Ted Mahler and Steve Marum. In 1994, a group from San Antonio, led by Terry Grimley, replicated the competition in their area. Those first two hubs, North Texas BEST and SA BEST, came together in the first regional BEST competition. By 2013, the organization had grown to 50 local Hubs and four regional competitions. Check out the map of all the hubs and regionals.
Nationally, BEST Robotics Inc. administers the program by overseeing the creation of a unique game each year, facilitating kit uniformity, and coordinating efforts to expand and improve BEST activities.
Locally, each Hub is directed and operated by volunteer efforts. Fundraising, recruiting, training, equipping, operating events is all done by volunteers.
www.bestinc.org (the national website)
www.brazosbest.org (my hub and home)