Davidson High School won its sixth straight overall title at the Jubilee BEST robotics competition last weekend at the University of South Alabama’s Mitchell Center.
The event drew 40 high school and middle school teams from throughout southwest Alabama and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In the overall competition, teams were judged for a project engineering notebook, marketing presentation, trade show exhibit and team spirit and sportsmanship, as well as the performance of the robot in carrying out specific tasks in the arena.
“Winning makes them feel good, but what they get out of the competition is much more than plastic trophies,” said Davidson High math teacher and robotics team sponsor Mike Fletcher. “The experience they get and the problems they solve prepare them for their future careers like no other program I have ever seen. We have been at this 11 years now and many of our graduates are engineers or they have careers in other related fields.”
Davidson, which placed in the top three in four of the five categories that made up the overall competition, also won the Hargrove SolidWorks CAD Design Award, the Most Photogenic Robot award and the Igus Top Gun Award with a high of 428 points in a single round.
Davidson and Semmes Middle School, which placed second in the BEST robot category, are among the schools that will move on to the South’s BEST competition on Dec. 5-6 at Auburn University. That competition will feature teams from throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.
Other awards won by Mobile County public schools during Saturday’s competition:
- BEST Video Award – Baker High School
- BASF Most Robust Robot – B.C. Rain High School
- Evonik Safety Award – Theodore High School
- Ingalls Shipbuilding Teamwork Award – Calloway-Smith Middle School
- Aztec Marine Blood, Sweat & Duct Tape Award – Mary G. Montgomery High School
- J.L. Bedsole Foundation BEST Rookie Team – Hankins Middle School
- Founders Creative Design Award (presented by Alabama Power) – Semmes Middle School
- Heart of Jubilee BEST Award (Act of Kindness) – Williamson High School
BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) was created in 1993 by two Texas Instruments engineers. Jubilee BEST, originally named Azalea City BEST, was formed in 2004.
“What we have seen through the years is … the ability is progressing,” said Robin Fenton, hub director for Jubilee BEST. “What we’re seeing from the students in their interaction with the robots is far surpassing anything we thought would take place.”
The 2015 event, titled Pay Dirt, included professional sound and lighting and drew a large crowd, with some schools bringing cheerleading squads and pep bands to create a game day atmosphere for the participants.
“It is just so cool to have such an atmosphere around you in a competition like this,” said Nolan Lenard, a member of Davidson’s team who hopes to become an aerospace engineer. “It’s cool to see how many people are interested in engineering.”