B.E.S.T. robotics competition opens practice for participants

Micah Sanders, Editor-In-Chief

Testing out their robotic skills and knowledge, the B.E.S.T. (Boosting Engineering, Science & Technology) Competition Practice Day took off Saturday, Oct. 23, at East Dale Mall. 

Several teams showed up to the event where numerous robots, ranging from big to small, showcased their almost finished product as the regional competition is next Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Montgomery, Multiplex. 

From 12-4 p.m., practice day allowed each team to see their competition and test out their robots to see if they fit the needed criteria on the practice mats located in three separate areas in the mall. 

“Some teams’ wheels were spinning because it was slipping on the carpet and couldn’t get traction, so now they know that they’re going to need to go and fix that before the main competition, and that’ll be the same field that they play that they’ll play on,” said Cadavious Jones, Ph.D., an associate professor of mathematics at Alabama State University and the director of the B.E.S.T. Robotics Competition in Montgomery. 

Each team had a scheduled time where they were able to practice for at least 30 minutes. To Jones’s surprise, the event brought in many eyes and ears interested in what was going on. 

“A lot of people were very interested in the fact that ASU was doing this to the point that some people thought that the students were attending ASU,” Jones said. “And so, of course, they were excited to learn that this was something that we were doing and that these were actually high school students that were building these machines.”


According to Jones, some team’s robots were visually pleasing but lacked some productive assets, or some parts just needed minor tweaks. However, he believes that it is all about the uniqueness of each team’s design that really matters at the end of the day. 

“It’s all about what these guys and ladies are going to come out here with. It’s all about what these students are going to produce, and you’re always just kind of floored by some of the things they come up with,” he said.

He mentioned that some teams based their robots after automobiles for insight. Some teams tried to mimic an actual automobile’s rack and pinion steering, whereas another team thought of a more remote-control-based machine with just two giant wheels and a stationary wheel in the front.

Though teams can be very creative and imaginative with their machines, that creativity has some limits. Teams are not allowed to freely deviate from the provided materials given during the competition’s kickoff in October such as the PVC pipes and motor. 

“You [the teams] can’t come in with a completely different motor or system because you could easily buy things that are commercially built that will do a lot better than what some teams might think they can do. So, there are certain limits to what you can add.”

With the big competition being next week, Jones expressed his need for volunteers and judges. Volunteers can serve in one of three ways: As a competition judge, event personnel, or a team mentor. Interested participants can sign up at https://signup.com/go/NUwnOhd

“We still have a need for quite a few judges, and so we’re trying to get as many as we can because November 6th is going to be here before you know it,” Jones said. “Because we still need volunteers, we still need judges. And if you don’t feel like you’re interested in being a judge, but you still want to help out, you can certainly be a volunteer.”