Bob Jones robot succeeds at BEST

Bob Jones Robotics Team won awards at the Tennessee Valley BEST Robotics Competition at Calhoun Community College. CONTRIBUTED
Bob Jones Robotics Team won awards at the Tennessee Valley BEST Robotics Competition at Calhoun Community College. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Bob Jones High School Robotics Team won honors at the Tennessee Valley BEST Robotics Competition at Calhoun Community College. (BEST represents Boosting Engineering Science and Technology.)

Bob Jones has a fall team for BEST and a spring team for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Robotics team members are Joseph Kluesner, Eric Black, Riley Bong, Alan Mathias, Wendy Nguyen, Zoey Montague, Poupei Kornarchi, Phoebe Crawford, Bryan Worley, A.J. Beckwith and William Irrgang. Engineering teacher Jeremy Raper sponsors the group.

A BEST finalist, Bob Jones won third place for engineering notebook, T-shirt design, web page design and ‘most elegant robot.’

Raper gave primary consulting for the robot, while Mala Thompson helped with the booth, marketing and engineering notebook. Rick Schwartz assisted with the presentation. Wendy Nguyen served as marketing manager.

In September, teams received materials for the six-week process for designing, constructing and testing the competition robot. “The rules are extensive, to the point of having an official question-and-answer section on their website,” Raper said.

The 2015 contest used a scenario with a mine, abandoned due to safety concerns. “Robots are sent to complete tasks that humans cannot,” Raper said. “Robots retrieve precious materials, repair broken equipment or both.”

At campus meetings, the Bob Jones team gathers in Raper’s classroom, which has tables suitable for design work. After hearing a status update, most of the meeting “is strictly getting it done … lots of noise and hard work taking place,” Raper said.

In the competition ‘game,’ robots pick up ‘coal’ and other materials. “They’re repairing air filters (foam board) and water systems (PVC piping) by placing them in the proper area,” Raper said. Robots lifted, pushed, scooped up and dropped items at various locations around the playing field.

Team member Eric Black said the experience “definitely helps me narrow down the specific engineering major I want to pursue in college, which is computer engineering.”

Wendy Nguyen loves robotics “because it’s not just about making the robot, but functioning as a company. I’m undecided about pursuing engineering or business, but participating in robotics is pushing me (toward) industrial engineering, a mixture of both.”

For more information, visit best.eng.auburn.edu.

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