ASMSA BEST Robotics team to compete in regional competition

2 years ago

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts BEST Robotics team will compete at The Frontier Trails BEST regional robotics competition this week.

ASMSA will be one of 32 teams competing in the regional competition at the Fort Smith Convention Center on Friday and Saturday. The competition will take place throughout the weekend, and events are open to the public beginning at 1 p.m. Friday.

Finalists from eight robotics competitions held in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado will compete for the BEST Award and awards for best marketing presentation, best team exhibit and the team displaying the best spirit and sportsmanship. Robot game competitions will be held Saturday in which teams work to achieve several goals most accurately in the shortest amount of time. The theme for this year’s competition is “Pay Dirt,” which was used in the local BEST competitions.

ASMSA earned its spot in the regional tournament at the Little Rock BEST of Little Rock local competition. The team built a robot that is a mix of PVC pipe, wood, cardboard and duct tape. It earned second place in the robot performance category and third in the engineering notebook category. The notebook documented the design of the robot.

Nicholas Seward, the team’s coach, was pleased with his students’ overall performance, from the design of the robot to its performance at the competition weekend. The team developed and created the robot in two work weekends when they normally have four weekends to design, create and test it, he said.

“This year I was impressed by just how well such a large number of people collaborated on one robot in such a short amount of time,” Seward said. “More than 15 students designed and built the robot in about five work days. Due to our school calendar and other academic requirements, we were only able to practice with the robot a few days before our competition. In fact, two of our senior members came straight from the SAT to drive the robot in the finals without the benefit of driving in the seeding rounds.”

Seward said the team has been working hard in preparation for the regional competition.

“For regionals, we are practicing like crazy. Even now, we are scoring twice what we did at the local competition. A combination of a few robot improvements and a lot more driving practice should make us competitive for the next round,” he said.

He said the trick to a better performance at the regional competition is to not let work to improve the robot prevent driving practice for the team.

“I made a simple rule that any work done on the robot has to be thought through and designed to take less than two hours from the start of the improvement to when the robot can be back in driving practice. Not that we are practicing that much, but it is all too easy to start an improvement with no clear plan and have the robot left in a nonfunctional state for days or weeks,” he said.

BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology and is a nonprofit volunteer-based organization. BEST seeks to engage students in engineering-related activities situated in real-world working environments, hoping to inspire them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related fields.

This weekend’s event is open to the public, and admission is free. To view the schedule of events or find out more information, visit http://cast.uafs.edu/best/frontier-trails-best

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