B.E.S.T. Competition 2004


AER B.E.S.T. Competition 2004

I have watched Battlebots and Robot Wars on television. I have also seen academic (noncombatant) robotics competitions on television. This was our first time to see any robotics competition in person.

The B.E.S.T. Competition hosted by SMU (Dallas) was the high school level finals for academic robotics competition for 2004. TangQa of the IKV Deliverance was present as a mentor for the Van Buren High School team. I took my kids plus a spare young lass to expose them to young adults involved with a purpose and serious technology.

The competition for 2004 as I understood it:
(TangQa or somebody can correct my mistaken memory.)
There is a large (about 20 foot in diameter) "cell" that has damaged DNA (plastic ball crawl balls) and free radicals (tennis balls) within. Each team was required to build a human remotely controlled robot that could remove the free radicals and damaged DNA units. There were special points for placing corrective genetic structures on a tower in the middle.
Each team was given the same basic kit and the task. Each team was allowed to engineer their own solutions from the provided kit.
The "cell" was designed to allow each team to attempt to pursue victory independently, or to negotiate strategies with neighboring teams. Some moves would give a team point. Some moves would give teams points. One had to pick what to do because of this.
Each robot must fit within a cubic space with a 24" side. Most robots were folded into the required space and upon competing expanded for much greater reach.

It was fascinating to see the team 'bots approach the problem with varying strategies. Some 'bots were very accurate and would score massively by attempting to isolate the radicals and to place the corrective genetic structures. However, these moves gave all teams equal points as the operating team. Other teams went for shoveling/scooping balls wholesale out of the center for team (only) and (two)team shared points.

At the demonstration booths, I had more than one heavy discussion about video editing and the practical applications of various video editing software. When we entered the CAD and modeling realm, the knowledge of modeling and software application quickly overwhelmed me. More than one team had extratopical displays of pure science or engineering that were outstanding. One team gave instructions and demonstrations on how to pull DNA from beans (from your pantry) and to prepare slides of that DNA. This was extratopical relative to robotics. But it was dead on relative to the "DNA" theme of the robotics. These were definitely not children at play.

I stress the words "young adults" as used in the second paragraph. There were some females in cheerleader outfits, and some males in school mascot costumes, but these were definitely not boys and girls. Not at their ages. Not at their tech levels. These were young men and women with vision and the maturity to pursue their visions. The work on and towards the competing robots was impressive. Their tech levels belied their ages.
They presented themselves with knowledge, salesmanship, and pride. It was as if we were walking through a vendor's convention. They could sell you on their tech. They would sell you on their skill levels and schools. Only, they were not selling anything except themselves. And these young people are very valuable.

I applaud these young women and men at their efforts. These young adults shall be the engineers of our future. And I feel that our future is in good hands after seeing these young adults in action and on display.

Oh, and as a side note:
More than one young lady or young man recognized the klingon symbols, belt buckle and so forth. This is a good sign. But of particular note, I was asked by one young lass if I had seen the VH1 Totally Obsessed that had a klingon guy on it. I informed this young lass that that was our Quadrant Commander and that TangQa (my guide at the competition) and I had crossed weapons with him in competition recently. She was suprised to find klingons, and celebrity TV klingons from far away, were that close after all.

Strength and Honor

Cdr. Salek Sutai
Ship's Brewer


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