Nashville, Tenn. – Teenagers of today may someday build robots designed for lunar colonization, planetary exploration, asteroid mining, or even automobile manufacturing. A group of 18 middle and high school teams got a head start at the annual Lipscomb/Nissan Music City BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics Competition on Oct. 20 in Nashville, Tenn.
The BEST program is an 18-year-old, nationwide, hands-on engineering program challenging students to build a robot using specific materials such as plywood, PVC pipe and duct tape. The goal is to teach problem-solving, teamwork and leadership skills through math and science, two highly valued skills in the education arena today.
More than 500 students participated on Oct. 20, with their 18 robots going head-to-head for a lucrative (and fictional) contract to build unmanned robotic vehicles for cargo delivery in space, at the midway station of the future, planet-changing (and also fictional) "space elevator."
Nissan and Lipscomb engineers, sounding more like football coaches than engineers, advised students as they remotely controlled their robots to transport "light cargo balls" and "clear fuel bottles" and to install "solar panels" and "habitation modules" within a specified time period.
"You can learn a lot from these kids because their lives are based around technology. We learn a lot about the next generation coming in so we can prepare for the future workforce," said Susan Brennan, vice president, Nissan Manufacturing.
The top three teams in the Lipscomb/Nissan Music City BEST competition now will proceed to the South's BEST competition in Auburn, Ala., in December, where around 50 teams duke it out for top honors in the region. Regional winners move on to the world competition.
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