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First BEST Robotics Competition event slated for Saturday, Sept. 6

Oct. 2, 2008-- UPDATE--The venue for the Crowley's Ridge BEST Robotics Mall Day, Saturday, Oct. 4, has been changed from the Mall at Turtle Creek to Barton's Do It Center, 3023 Browns Lane, Jonesboro. Contact Dr. E. T. Hammerand, director, Crowley's Ridge BEST Robotics Competition, at (870) 243-3610, for additional information.

Sept. 4, 2008 -- On Saturday, Sept. 6, students in grades 6-12 from thirteen area schools will attack a robotic challenge in aerospace to be unveiled today. Student arrival and registration is at 9-9:30 a.m., and the program is from 9:30 a.m.-12 noon at the Fowler Center, 201 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro, on the campus of Arkansas State University.

These students will be taking part in the nationwide BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics program. More than 10,000 students across the nation participated in the BEST Robotics program last year. The mission of BEST is to introduce young people to educational and vocational opportunities in technology. This introduction is accomplished through an annual six-week competition taking place during September and October. BEST is a non-profit program and is provided free of charge to participating schools via donations of money, materials, and labor.

Participating schools include Annie Camp Junior High School, Arkansas Northeastern College Secondary Center, Buffalo Island Central High School, Cabot High School, Greene County Tech Junior High School, Hillcrest High School, Jonesboro Magnet School for Math & Science, Nettleton High School, Newport High School, Ridgefield Christian School, Riverside Junior High, Stuttgart High School, and Westside High School.

The 2008 contest theme is “Just Plane Crazy” and involves the use of robots in the aerospace industry. Details of the robots’ specific tasks (which determine the design of the various robots) will not be revealed until Saturday, Sept. 6. The robots, which can have no dimension larger than 24” or weigh more than 24 lbs., must move quickly enough over the game arena (24' x 24') to complete their assigned tasks within three minutes.

This year's participating schools will convene in Jonesboro on Saturday, Sept. 6 to be introduced to the problem and to collect their materials; no other materials may be used in the construction of the robot. On Saturday, Oct. 4, the school teams will convene for a second time at the Mall at Turtle Creek from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. to test-drive their robots in the game arena and to spy on one another (industrial espionage is intentionally included as part of the competition). The teams will convene for the final time on Game Day, Saturday, Oct. 18, at the ASU Student Union.

Robots will compete in a series of three-minute matches, with repairs and adjustments being made between matches. While the robots compete, teams will be judged on the basis of an engineering notebook detailing their efforts, a table display promoting the marketing of their robots to consumers; sportsmanship and spirit (up to and including bringing cheerleaders and bands); and finally the performances of the robots themselves. Trophies will be awarded, and awards in a number of other categories will include the Founders’ Award for Creative Design, Most Robust Machine, Outstanding Team Web Page Design, Most Elegant Machine, Most Photogenic Machine, Outstanding T-shirt Design, and Top Gun Award for most points scored in a single round.

The top three teams from the Jonesboro competition will go on to compete in the regional competition at Fort Smith, one of only three such regional competition locations in the nation, on Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6.

ASU's Department of Computer Science began hosting this competition locally in 2006. ASU's College of Engineering also contributes substantial assistance. Area sponsors include Acxiom Corporation, Barton's of Arkansas and Missouri, Hytrol Conveyor Co., J. T. White Hardware & Lumber, and the Kays Foundation.

Information about BEST Robotics’ nationwide endeavors is available at Local contest information is detailed at For more information, contact ASU's contest director, Dr. E. T. Hammerand at (870) 680-8109 or e-mail or




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