WHS robotics team advances to regionals

Members of the Wetumpka High School robotics team pose for a photo after finishing first in robotics and placing second overall at the War Eagle BEST competition. Contributed photo

Wetumpka High School’s STEAM Machine robotics team will advance to the regional contest again this year. The students qualified to participate in the South’s BEST Regional Championship after a successful outing at last weekend’s War Eagle BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) competition at Auburn University.

The team finished second overall, and won first in robotics, web page and marketing and presentation. The group captured third place in both notebook and most photogenic robot.

WHS also received the IGUS award given in recognition of the most points scored with the robot in a single round. The driver was Jost Noel and the spotter was Jeremy Segers.

This year’s BEST challenge was “Gatekeeper 2013.” The playing field involved a horizontal conveyer belt to transport the robot to three different stages in building a central processing unit. Robots were required to collect transistors to make gates then assemble the gates to create integrated circuits to build the CPU.

Team sponsor Virginia Vilardi, WHS science teacher and science department chair, said she was impressed with her students’ performance.

“This is a rebuilding year,” she said. “We lost 13 seniors to graduation. The underclassmen really stepped up to win this. I’ve never had so many sophomores serve as managers as we have this year.”

Competing in BEST requires intensive work and cooperation. Six weeks ago, each of the competing teams received a kit of standardized parts and the details of this year’s challenge.

The performance of the robots was a key element, but teams in the competition also had to complete a project summary notebook, give an oral presentation, set up a table display, maintain a website and demonstrate spirit and sportsmanship. The com­bined scores in all categories yield the overall BEST team scores.

The regional championship will be held Dec. 7-8 at Auburn University. The competition will host the top 56 teams from 18 BEST hubs in six states.

Wetumpka High’s participation in the BEST competition is made possible by sponsor donations.

Two other Elmore County schools participated in the War Eagle BEST competition – Wetumpka Middle School and Southside Middle School – Tallassee.