The SA BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) competition is a contest held annually to inspire and interest students in the fields of science and engineering. With guidance from adult mentors, local teams of students design and build a remote controlled machine to accomplish a specific task. The students are given a box of raw materials from which to build the machine and six weeks to design and construct it. The task of the robot is kept secret until Kick-off Day, when all the teams are told what the robot is required to do. On Competition Day, all schools will compete head-on with each other in a thrilling science-fair-turned-sports-event. Several teams advance to the regional Texas BEST competition and compete with the BEST robots from other areas. More details on the BEST concept are below.
San Antonio BEST is a part of the nationwide organization of BEST Robotics, Inc. Founded in 1994, San Antonio BEST is the oldest active BEST "hub."
BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology) is a program designed to show youth how engineering can be fun. The BEST program sponsors a sports-like contest where local middle and high school students work as a team to build a remote controlled and programmable robot designed to accomplish a given task. Each team is given an identical collection of parts from which the machine is to be built. Only materials specified on the kit list can be used. The build process involves teamwork, brainstorming and ingenuity. Education and industry professionals volunteer their time as coaches/mentors to offer guidance in the design and construction processes. Several restrictions apply to help make the competition simulate "real world" business and engineering environment.
- Constrained development time (6 weeks)
- Constrained design components (identical kits provided)
- Specific design requirements (size, weight, etc.)
The teams all gather together on a common game kickoff day at all the local hub sites, are shown the game field, and are given:
- The time period of the contest. The game is limited to a six week period to simulate a product time to market constraint. In the real world, a late product doesn't sell. In the game world, a late product means that you don't compete.
- The resources for the contest. Each team is given an identical box of odd parts, fasteners, materials, and a programmable controller for the motors and servos. In the real world, a new product must be built within a cost and budget. In the game world, the machine can only be built with kit parts.
- The specifications for the contest. At kickoff, a detailed game task description will be given to each team. This description is the most closely held secret in the process, known only to a select few BEST game designers before the kickoff. In the real world, a new product must meet the customers requirements and specifications. In the game world, the machine must meet size and weight requirements while still completing the game task.
The competition typically consists of multiple seeding rounds with the top teams participating in addition rounds for a semi-final competition and a final competition. Schools are encouraged to bring their bands, cheerleaders, mascots, banners, etc to add to the sports-like atmosphere.