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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Six Schools Vie For Title in Robotics Competition at Penn State DuBois

Penn State DuBois Assistant Professor of Engineering Daudi Waryoba introduces teams to the playing field they'll navigate their robots through during BEST.
DuBOIS - The first round of a nation-wide robotics competition for middle and high school students will take place at Penn State DuBois in October. BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) got underway on Saturday with the official Kickoff Day, as teams assembled in Hiller Auditorium to gather information and the supplies they'll need to build their robot. 

The competition and Game Days are slated for 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 23, and continuing from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. The games will take place in the campus gymnasium, with Penn State DuBois serving as a local hub for the competition for the second year in a row. A Mall Day is also planned for 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 10, at DuBois Mall. All BEST events are open to the public.

Teams participating in this year's BEST at Penn State DuBois are DuBois Area, DuBois Central Catholic, Redbank Valley, Clarion-Limestone, Wider School, and Ridgway Area.

BEST provides all necessary parts and equipment for teams to build a robot that they can use to run a course and perform specified tasks. The theme of this year's BEST is titled Pay Dirt, and is based on deep mining techniques and the design, construction, and operation of the machines utilized in mining. The robot must be built within a six-week time frame. On the days of the contest, all teams will run the course, competing for the best times and course completion. 

Through participation in this project-based program, students learn to analyze and solve problems utilizing the Engineering Design Process, which helps them develop technological literacy skills. The goal is to better prepare these students for further education and careers in STEM fields, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

The learning opportunities with BEST don't stop at STEM fields, however. Teams also compete and receive awards for other areas of the project, which include marketing, exhibition, sportsmanship, and team spirit.

Penn State DuBois Chancellor Melanie Hatch said she is happy to host BEST on campus, because the organization puts educational experiences for the participants at the forefront of its mission. Hatch said, "Competitions like BEST encourage students to embrace academics by providing a fun, competitive environment. Interesting and engaging activities involving STEM education get young people excited about the fields early on, and have great potential to inspire many of our nation's much-needed future engineers, scientists, or mathematicians."

Hatch also noted the structure of the competition provides a place for students of all academic strengths to participate and excel. She said, "Additionally, it presents opportunities for students with stronger aptitudes outside of STEM to compete in areas like marketing, where they can shine, as well."

Winners of BEST at Penn State DuBois will advance to the Northern Plains BEST Regional Championships to be held December 3-5, at North Dakota State University.

More information can be found at http://dubois.psu.edu/best

BEST at Penn State DuBois is made possible by Fairman Family Foundation, Missile Defense Agency, Comtec, Atlas Pressed Metals, Abbot Furnace, Miller Welding, Eastern Sintered Alloys, and Symmco.

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