The BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) competition presented by Elliott Group was hosted by Grove City College on October 13-14. The BEST competition is a “middle and high school robotics competition whose mission is to engage and excite students about engineering, science, and technology as well as inspire them to pursue careers in these fields” (bestinc.org). The teams worked for the past six weeks to create a functioning robotic machine that can complete certain tasks in three minutes. This year, 22 teams and approximately 400 students competed at the Arena in the Physical Learning Center at Grove City College.
Naomi Keicher, a freshman International Business Major, discusses her experience at the BEST competition.
Coming from Cornerstone Christian Prep, had you heard about Grove City before?
Yes, Grove City was very commonly discussed at Cornerstone. Our founder, principal, and teacher, Brandon McCall, graduated from Grove City and often regaled stories of his time here and always spoke positively of the college and its faculty.
Primarily, the college was spoken of in reference to its being the location of the local hub for BEST Robotics.
What made you decide to participate in the BEST robotics challenge?
Cornerstone was a very small school when I joined in eighth grade. A few sports were available and I did play soccer, but the whole school buzzed constantly with talk of the BEST Robotics Competition. The majority of the school was involved to some extent. I was unable to attend kickoff that year, but my brother, Bobby, stayed after school most days to help the team. I simply started staying too. It was one of the best decisions I made in my high school career and one of the most impactful.
What did you enjoy most about the competition?
Where do I begin? I was on the build team for the first two and a half years of my participation and the marketing team for the second two and a half. During these times, I was able to be participate in designing the robot, lead a team of builders, and drive the robot in the competition, locally and regionally. During the second part of my time with BEST, I worked on the engineering notebook, helped in the design and building of the booth, presented for the formal marketing presentation, and acted as Head of Marketing. I enjoyed each challenge as much as possible. I learned how to take direction, lead, cooperate with others, delegate, manage time, prioritize, negotiate, be professional, manage stress, and laugh at myself. I don’t think the BEST Robotics experience can fully be conveyed in simple words. They say BEST is a free competition because they want everyone to be able to participate, but I say it’s free because it would be impossible to assign a monetary value to the priceless education and experience gained from participating.
It’s impossible to pick a favorite moment. So I would say the part I enjoyed most was the opportunity to watch myself and my friends develop into more experienced people and grow closer together.
Did participating in the competition help you make a decision on whether or not to attend Grove City College?
Absolutely! Familiarity with the campus endeared me to it, but the way the college presented itself through hosting the competition made an impression on me. The emphasis placed on opening in prayer is not something that every school would be comfortable with, especially in regard to a secular competition. I appreciated their resolution to continue with it, regardless of status quo. In addition to this, I developed a respect for the college that was interested in hosting a competition that was so well rounded. BEST isn’t just for engineering students – it’s a holistic approach that includes everything from strategic planning to manufacturing to marketing – an entire business model. An institution that sees value in such a program is an institution I wanted to be a part of. BEST Robotics was a contributor to my decision to apply, but by no means was it the only reason. I am so glad to be attending.