The kickoff for the 15th annual DC BEST competition is set for today at the University of North Texas Discovery Park.
Seventeen competing teams will receive game kits and instructions for the competition and get their first look at the game field beginning at 8 a.m. The robotics contest will take place Oct. 27 at the UNT Coliseum.
Since 1997, Denton County Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization and a hub of nonprofit BEST Robotics Inc., has put on robotics competitions for middle and high school students. Contest organizers say the event encourages an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM fields.
Teams receive parts to create a robot to accomplish a particular task and must finish the project within six weeks, said Miguel Garcia-Rubio, a DC BEST board member. Much like the real world, the students are in competition with other teams to complete a project in a limited time, he said, all while fostering teamwork, engineering skills and collaboration.
Garcia-Rubio said the competition also provides a learning experience for students. He said he’s hopeful students will become enthusiastic about STEM career paths through the competition.
“This will challenge the creativity and the technical skills of the students,” he said. “It will force them to think about solving problems.”
Prior to Oct. 27, teams will have two practice days — Oct. 19-20 — to test their robots out against other teams.
This year’s contest theme is “Warp XX.” Competition specifics have been limited until today, when they will be shared with students so that no team has an advantage over the other.
In addition to constructing robots, teams are responsible for keeping a notebook detailing their robot design and creation concepts.
Top finishers in the BEST Award and robot competition categories at DC BEST will advance to the region championship, Texas BEST, Nov. 9-10 at the University of Texas at Dallas.
This year’s DC BEST contest expenses are estimated to total $12,000. Bill Stamm, hub director, said the contest is short of funding and needs community support to defray expenses. For the last several years, the contest has struggled “to make ends meet,” he said.
“Our prayers are going out that there is still going to be money coming in,” Stamm said. “We’ll do this as long as we’re able.”
For information on how to donate, visit http://dcbest.unt.edu.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.