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BrewTech Robotics

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Please check out our BrewTech BEST Robotics

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www.Brew-Tech.org

Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology, is a national 6-week robotics competition held each fall, designed to help create interest in middle school and high school students in possible engineering careers. The games are similar in scale to the FIRST Tech Challenge.

Currently, BEST has hubs across the country. There are approximately 10,000 students, 800+ teams, 40 hubs in 15 states, and 4 regionals. Any school may start a team; there is no cost to participate.

Based on the task for the year, each team is given a parts list and a kit of parts which they use to construct a robot. This kit includes parts such as wood and PVC, along with the RC components necessary to control the robot. However, not every item on the parts list is supplied by BEST and some must be obtained by the team. Items not on the list are not allowed, and the robot will be checked prior to competition for illegal items. Teams are given six weeks from kickoff to design and build the robot and finish other competition tasks, such as writing an engineering notebook about their design and construction process.

The final robot must fit in a 2 foot cube at the beginning of each round of competition. The robot must also weigh under 24 pounds. Once a round has started, the robot can expand beyond the 2 foot cube via retractable arms, etc.

The game task is different each year, but historically the robot has often needed an arm with different grabbing abilities. The winning teams from local competition sites, or hubs, advance to regional championship sites after the local competition has ended.

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 (which will be used to judge who will be a "wild card" in the semi-finals. That is, if their robot does not do well, they will still make it to the semi-finals, and have a chance to win), designing a website, 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.

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