Robotics Team To Dominate At UALR


Building team members Alida Kaufmann, Anne Li, Akshat Shah, and Dhruv Modi discuss future modifications to their robot.

Evalyn Berleant, staff writer

Over 30 teams will face off against each other at UALR in a robotics competition called Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology (BEST) Robotics, which will be on Saturday, Nov. 5.

BEST Robotics is one of the biggest competitions that Central’s robotics club, SECME Robotics, takes part in.

“BEST takes a huge variety of skills and integrates them all together,” physics teacher and club sponsor Patrick Foley said. “The competition has a place for everyone.”

Every year, the club splits into three smaller teams for the competition. The Building Team focuses on designing and building the robot; the Notebook Team writes about their design process; and the Presentation Team prepares a visual exhibit to present to several judges.

The team leaders, who are appointed by the club sponsors, Foley and math teachers Kent Moore and Rosetter Dirden, handle most of the team recruitment on their own. This year, sophomore Dhruv Modi is the leader of the Building Team, senior Evalyn Berleant is the leader of the Notebook Team, and senior Cindy Ye is the leader of the Presentation Team.

“BEST is one of our biggest competitions,” Cindy said. “Our members are most involved in this one because it covers various aspects of science, including building the robot, presenting the robot, and documenting the robot building process, so it trains our engineering, presentation, and writing skills.”

In the BEST Robotics competition, a game field is built to simulate a certain environment. This year, the game field simulates a farm, and the robots are supposed to perform functions like harvesting vegetables, planting seeds, and herding pigs. The building process, however, is far from straightforward.

“There’s a lot of trial and error,” sophomore Alex Han said. “You have to try a lot of things and test them, and there is always going to be something wrong.”

Practice Day, which took place on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the UALR Field House, is a pre-competition event when teams can take their robots to test on the game field.

“It helped us figure out what we need to add and change on the robot,” Alex said.

As one of the biggest robotics competitions around Arkansas, BEST Robotics is one of the only competitions that the club requires everyone to participate in.

“Since it’s such a big competition, it gets publicity — more than any other robotics competition, anyway,” Cindy said. “If you’re interested in engineering or computer science, I would recommend joining SECME. It’s really interactive, and we have a very friendly and engaging team.”