Atlas Pressed Metals Sponsors and Coaches High School Robotics Competition
For the second year, Atlas Pressed Metals has been very active in supporting the local BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) Robotics competition, both as an event sponsor and with team coaching.
According to the event website, BEST is a middle and high school robotics competition whose mission is to engage and excite students about engineering, science, and technology as well as inspire them to pursue careers in these fields. The BEST program indicated that through participation in this project-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program, students learn to analyze and solve problems utilizing the Engineering Design Process, which helps them to develop technological literacy skills, highly desirable in the industrial workforce. Each fall, more than 850 middle and high schools and over 18,000 students participate in the competition. The competition finals were held Dec. 4-6 in Fargo, N.D., but the regional competition, sponsored in part by Atlas, was hosted locally at the Penn State DuBois campus earlier in the school year.
The DuBois Central Catholic team, called C3 (“C-Cubed”), was additionally assisted by Dr. Craig Stringer and Sally Moran, both employees of Atlas. Within the DCC team are several divisions, each assigned to address the challenge from a different perspective, such as through engineering, design, programming, marketing and management. Numerous mentors were involved in team coaching for each of the divisions. Stringer, a Senior Metallurgist at Atlas, was a mentor for the programming team involved in problem solving and engineering design through Solidworks CAD, RobotC, Simulink, Sketch up CAD, and Excel. Moran, Atlas Director of Sales and Marketing, coached the Sales and Marketing team.
This year’s BEST challenge was called “Paydirt.” Teams designed and built a robot, and programmed it to repair and operate a simulated underground mine. The robots could score points over a period of three minutes by repairing the mine’s broken pipes and failing filtration system, and by extracting minerals from the mine. The robot could mine any valuables simulated in the challenge including limestone aggregate, coal, iron ore, Bauxite, copper ore, and lithium crystals, or the robot could also take core samples. In addition to the robot challenge, the team was required to present the business model for the team, market research for the “product” and a full sales and marketing plan.
“As the process went on and we were nearing the competitions, I believe the most impact we as mentors had on the team was in the style of presenting and how to handle questions from the judges,” Moran said. “These kids matured in their confidence and public speaking skills right before our eyes. It was very rewarding to see this.”
Moran added that Sean Garred and Bob Logan assisted in the coaching of the sales and marketing team for the Fargo competition due to her travel schedule with Atlas. She said all the mentors worked well together, and the students were able to get three different perspectives on their presentation.
Students who mentored under Stringer learned mostly about the engineering process, math skills including geometry and trigonometry, and how to better communicate across all disciplines.
“Another notable skill the students learned along the way was persistence and not giving up despite difficult engineering and technical challenges,” Stringer said.
For everyone’s efforts, C3 was able to take home a first-place regional award, and excellent experience from nationals.