Wolverine teams BEST rivals at robotics regionals

Teams from Grove City College’s Wolverine BEST robotics competition took two of the top three spots in regional championships last weekend, continuing a trend of excellence in the nationwide technology challenge.

For the overall award, Cornerstone Christian Prep, South Park Township, Pa., took second place and Family Instructors of the Northern Suburbs (FINS), a coalition of Pittsburgh-area homeschooled students, took third in the BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Northern Plains Regional Championships held Dec. 4 to 5 at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

Six teams that competed in the Wolverine BEST competition hosted by Grove City College in October advanced to the regionals and four came back with trophies. Cornerstone, founded by Grove City College alumnus Brandon McCall ’08, also took first place for Spirit and Sportsmanship. Mercer (Pa.) Area High School was the third place winner in that category. The team from Union Area High School, New Castle, Pa., won third place for BEST Marketing Presentation. Teams from Christian Life Academy, Seneca, Pa., and Grove City Area Homeschoolers also participated in the championships, which drew 34 teams from six states and Canada.

The BEST robotics competition challenges teams of high school students to design and build a robot that can complete a specific task, or game, which changes from year to year. The idea is to encourage interest in STEM (science, technology, mathematics and engineering) subjects outside of the classroom, according to Dr. Mike Bright, chairman of Grove City College’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Hubs like Wolverine BEST provide the raw materials, some advice and a venue for competition, which also includes presenting design plans and marketing materials for each team’s robot. Teams advance from the hubs to regional competition.

In just a few short years, Wolverine BEST has become a major player in the nationwide competition. Bright, who helped bring the competition to the College, says it’s a great tool for getting students interested in the possibilities that STEM offers. Grove City College is one of only two BEST sites in the state of Pennsylvania. Stephanie Adams serves as hub director for Wolverine BEST.

“I could tell many stories about the competition,” Bright said. “However, one of the most special to me is that both Cornerstone and FINS stayed for an extra hour and half after the competition ended to help the local organization tear down the field and clean up the arena. Our teams truly display servant leadership.”

For more on BEST and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Grove City College: www.gcc.edu/elee.

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