Imagine an arena full of middle school and high school students cheering nonstop for five hours straight on a Saturday morning. What is possibly worth waking up early and yelling for on a weekend? The amazing talent and hard work of students from all over the region battling robots would definitely justify this incessant cheering.
Each year, Grove City College hosts the BEST Robotics Competition through the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics departments. This STEM-based curriculum is a well-loved priority of Grove City College, that highlights the strengths of college, middle school, and high school students interested in engineering based professions through robotic design. With the leadership of Dr. Mike Bright, Mrs. Stephanie Adams, and Mrs. Danielle Bryan, both students and faculty were able to help make this event a success as volunteers and judges at the Wolverine BEST competition on Saturday, Oct. 29.
The BEST Robotics stands for Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology. These competitions are done on a national level each year to challenge students to create a robot that competes in a game and embodies “boosting” of engineering, science, and technology through their designs. This year’s theme was “Bet the Farm,” so students created a robot with the ability to plant corn seeds, harvest and deliver ripe corn, tomatoes, and lettuce. Robots were also required to corral and secure pigs, as well as feed them, and turn on a water valve. The complexity of this year’s robot was a challenge to all, but equally an amazing learning opportunity for younger and older students to learn teamwork, collaboration, and application of engineering design.
Not only is this a great opportunity for younger students to learn about practical engineering, but it is also such a gratifying experience for our students and faculty to spread the importance of academic recognition. Dr. Mike Bright explains, “The thing that motivates me is seeing students get the recognition that athletes receive, but for working on technical and academic endeavors.” As this competition takes months to plan, Bright continues, “It can be tense and frustrating in the weeks leading up to the competition, but the energy from the students on Game Day makes it all worthwhile. It is particularly gratifying to walk through the pit area and see students and teachers helping other teams to get their robots ready or patched up so they can run again.”
Students on game day serve as volunteers, judges, and coaches to help teams get their robots prepared. Junior Mechanical Engineering major Matthew Batten has been involved as a coach for the Grove City Homeschoolers “Spartans” Team for the past two years. He explains, “as a Mechanical Engineering major, I thought that helping the team would be a great opportunity to serve the community… I’ve also really enjoyed helping high school students get a taste of real engineering.” According to Batten, the creation and final production of the team’s robots is a rewarding experience that he is proud to experience. Batten continues, “The competition is exciting, and it’s really neat to see six weeks of work come together and watch the guys on the team show what they can do.”
This competition is just one example of how our engineering department involves students of all ages to get excited about engineering design. We are thankful as a campus community to be able to host such an event every year, that emphasizes the importance of the STEM careers on our campus.
To learn more about the competition and how to get involved, visit BEST Robotics Inc.