Student robot-builders competing next month at Grove City College’s Wolverine BEST presented by Elliott Group will demonstrate their prototypes Saturday at Ross Park Mall.
Student teams will break out their ’bots from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the heart of the suburban shopping center and test out their skills maneuvering the creations. It’s a test run of sorts for the competition next month at the College, where teams of middle- and high-school students from 22 regional public, parochial, private and homeschool cooperatives face off at Wolverine BEST.
They’ll be working within the same game field and on the same tasks that they’ll face in the real competition, which is held Oct. 13 and 14 on the campus of Grove City College, which serves as a regional hub for the national BEST Robotics competition.
“Mall Day is a great experience for the students because it forces them to accelerate development of their robot and it shows both the brilliance and flaws of their initial design ideas. It really starts to focus their efforts on what actually works vs. what they hope may work,” Dr. Mike Bright, chair of the College’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and BEST Robotics board member, said.
It also provides an opportunity to draw some attention to the competition and its larger goal of inspiring the next generation scientists and engineers.
“We hope that people walking by take the time to talk to these students about their work. It is gratifying to see a shy 14-year-old light up when talking about their particular design for the wheels or the claw,” Bright said.
Grove City College is one of just two BEST hubs in the state and the annual contest draws teams of students from all over western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Teams are supplied with materials to build robots and instructions for a game that will test their skills of design, engineering, construction, leadership and teamwork.
Schools participating in Wolverine BEST presented by Elliott Group are: Clarion Area High School; Cornerstone Prep; Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy; FINS (Family Instructors of the North Hills); Grove City High School; Mercer Area High School; Slippery Rock Middle School; Union Area High School; West Middlesex High School; Christian Life Academy; Commodore Perry High School; Grove City Area Homeschoolers; Kennedy Catholic High School; Franklin Junior-Senior High School; Holy Trinity School; Redeemer Lutheran School; Grove City Middle School; Glenoak High School; Eden Christian Academy; Mentor Christian Academy; Plum Senior High School; and New Castle High School.
Elliott Group, a Jeannette, Pa.,-based company that designs, manufacturers and services turbomachinery for a global clientele, is Wolverine BEST’s lead sponsor. The company is committed to support BEST’s ultimate goal, which is to inspire students to pursue degrees and careers in critical STEM disciplines. The event also enjoys support from Procter Fire Protection and Grove City College.