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Robotics competitors advance to regional contest

Six teams of middle- and high-school students who competed in the New Mexico BEST Robotics competition this past weekend at New Mexico State University will go on to compete at the regional competition Nov. 8-9 in Garland, Texas.


A student maneuvers her team's robot through the various tasks at the New Mexico BEST Robotics competition at New Mexico State University.
A student maneuvers her team's robot through the various tasks at the New Mexico BEST Robotics competition at New Mexico State University. (Courtesy photo by J. Victor Espinosa)

On Oct. 19, more than 500 students representing 30 teams from New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, gathered to compete with robots that they designed and created. The theme of the competition was "Gatekeeper," centered on building CPUs.

BEST, which stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, is an annual nationwide competition that offers middle- and high-school students an opportunity to work in a situation where they are confronted with the same problems, challenges and breakthroughs encountered by engineering teams. The BEST mission is to inspire participating students to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology and math.

The BEST Award (overall) winners are:
First, Rio Rancho Robo Runners, Rio Rancho, N.M.; second, Chaparral Middle School, Chaparral, N.M.; third: Hatch Valley High School, Hatch, N.M.; and fourth, El Dorado High School, El Paso, Texas.

The BEST Game (robot) winners are:
First, Rio Rancho Robo Runners, Rio Rancho, N.M.; second, Hatch Valley High School, Hatch, N.M.; third, Cave Creek Robotics, Cave Creek, Ariz.; and fourth, El Dorado High School, El Paso, Texas.

Patricia A. Sullivan, New Mexico BEST hub director and NMSU College of Engineering assistant dean, has been involved with BEST for three years and NMSU has been host (or hub) to the local competition for 12 years. The New Mexico BEST competition is the largest in the nation.

"BEST is one of the largest robotics competitions in New Mexico," said Sullivan. "It is a wonderful opportunity for students with varying interests to come together in a fun, yet challenging activity to further their interest in STEM fields."

Each year, teams are given a specific task and identical kits of equipment and parts to construct a robot that will complete the task. They then have six weeks to design, build and test a robot that will outperform its competitors. Schools compete with each other on the game field. They also are judged on presentations, notebooks, sportsmanship, spirit and exhibits.

The six teams will advance to Texas BEST Regional Competition at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, on Nov. 8-9. For more information about the regional competition, visit http://www.utdallas.edu/best/teams.html.