Format for BEST Robotics Competition

BEST Robotics includes two elements: a robot competition, in which teams attempt to score as many points as possible in head-to-head competition, and the BEST award. The BEST award is more complex, encompassing such tasks as writing a high-quality technical notebook or engineering journal, designing a web site, an interview, delivering an oral presentation to a panel of judges, and creating a table display booth.

BEST encourages its teams to follow an engineering process, similar to the engineering process used in many engineering jobs. This gives students a taste of what they may have to do in future engineering jobs. It also hopes to get students excited about the field of engineering and more likely to go into it. Although BEST has not been able to keep up with alumni to see if BEST has had an effect on their career path, similar robotics competitions, like FIRST, show that activities like BEST do have a higher rate of students going into science and engineering related fields.

Another challenge teams involved in BEST face is limited materials--the primary construction materials used in BEST are simple and easily formed. These materials include PVC pipe, string, plywood, a limited quantity of sheet metal, and a bit of aluminum, as well as miscellaneous hardware, 2 large motors and 2 small motors, and the electronics necessary to run these motors and the 3 provided servos. At the beginning of competition, the robot is checked over to make sure that no illegal parts are used. Originally, old printers were also part of the BEST kit and printer parts could be used on the machine. The limited materials make students think much more creatively with what they are given