Wolverine BEST features 22 teams of ’bot builders

Wolverine BEST presented by Elliott Group is gearing up again for the annual student robotics competition at Grove City College.

The competition, now in its eighth year at the College, is part of BEST Robotics, Inc., a nationwide non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is to inspire middle through high school students to pursue careers in engineering, science, and technology through participation in a sports-like, hands-on, real-world engineering-based robotics competition.

Hundreds of students, teachers and family visit campus for the two-day competition in which teams of students from area middle and high schools are given the tools and equipment to build robots designed to accomplish a specific task. 

Twenty-two teams from area public and private schools as well as homeschool cooperatives are expected to compete Oct. 13 and 14 in Wolverine BEST. At a kickoff event Sept. 2 on campus, they were presented with the rules for this year’s game, called Crossfire, and materials to design and build their robots, courtesy of Elliott Group, a Jeannette, Pa.,-based company that designs, manufacturers and services turbomachinery for a global clientele sponsors Wolverine BEST.

This year’s challenge is to design and manufacture a prototype that can handle industrial fire emergencies. Teams will score points based on their robot’s ability to rescue a fire test manikin, contain “dangerous” chemicals, and extinguish simulated flames during a three minute match. Teams are evaluated on performance in the game simulation and the quality of their project documentation, sales presentation, company exhibit and even their company culture and business ethics. 

Students will get a chance on Sept. 30 to test out their robots before the big competition at Mall Day at the Ross Park Mall.

Wolverine BEST is one of only two BEST Hubs in Pennsylvania. The event serves as an opportunity for Grove City College to showcase its nationally ranked engineering program. Dr. Mike Bright, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering started Wolverine BEST at Grove City College and now serves as a board member of the national organization, which recently moved its headquarters to Pittsburgh from Texas.

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 became the competition’s lead sponsor last year. 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.

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