Building the best robot: Competition has space themeEleven southwestern North Dakota schools will face off with their robots in the BEST Robotics Inc. district competition today at Trinity High School. BEST (boosting engineering science and technology) is a six-week national competition for middle and high school students to foster an interest in engineering careers.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Eleven southwestern North Dakota schools will face off with their robots in the BEST Robotics Inc. district competition today at Trinity High School.
BEST (boosting engineering science and technology) is a six-week national competition for middle and high school students to foster an interest in engineering careers.
“A major goal of the robotics competition is to get the students to think creatively,” Trinity team advisor Casey Kessel said. “They have a problem — now how do they find a solution.”
Six weeks ago, the teams were given boxes of plywood, PVC pipe, screws, wire and electronics components to design and build a machine that can perform tasks in three minutes.
Judges will evaluate the robots starting at 9 a.m., today in the Trinity Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
Dickinson State University sponsors the local competition through a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative, according to a press release.
“We’ve learned so much the first year — what to do and what not to do,” Kessel said. “We’ve learned the ins and outs of how this work, so we’ve had a great learning curve from the first year to the second.”
The competition has five categories of competition, said Kelsey Hibl, one of eight members of the DHS team.
The competition includes a marketing segment, where the students create a mythical business. The businesses were showcased through displays and judged Friday at DSU, she said.
The categories also include building the robot, the exhibits, notebooks and sportsmanship.
Austin Maus and Kyle Pletan did most of the robot construction while Hibl led the marketing committee and Yang documented their work in a notebook.
“I documented the engineering design process,” Yang said. “The first step was brainstorming — what were the obstacles in the course and how to solve the problem most efficiently.”
For marketing, Hibl’s committee conducted media interviews and made posters. After the competition, the goal is to visit area elementary schools, she said.
The competition’s theme is related to space. The robot is to climb a pole (the space elevator) from Earth to the international space station, with a platform is built midway.
“The goal is to act like a shuttle, transporting cargo balls from the ground to the midway station, which is 10 feet high,” Hibl said.
Maus said the team’s goal is to win a trip to regional competition in Fargo — the same as last year.
“Last year at regionals, we placed ninth,” Maus said. “The first year, we had a simplistic grouping of ideas, but at the state competition, our horizons were broadened.”
He said this year’s challenge is harder, in that the robot is expected to pick up items and climb a pole without dropping them.
Austin Oltmanns is president of Trinity’s robotics company named “Infinite Elevators Technology Inc.”
His team consists of 19 students with Chris Keller as assistant advisor.
Oltmanns’ goal is to qualify for the state competition.
“It’s definitely different this year, having something that goes up and down,” he said.
The district competition concludes with awards at 3 p.m. The public is welcome.