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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Best Robotics Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Federated Giving Programs, Philanthropy, Youth Development

Mission: BEST is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology, and math through participation in a sports-like, science- and engineering-based robotics competition.

Programs: The program involves having middle and high school students design, build, then demonstrate a robotic machine to play a sports-like "game". Engineers from local industry act as mentors to guide the students in the engineering process, teaming and other business principles. The contest is designed to simulate a real-world business and engineering environment. The contest simulates:
1) Time to Market - through a limited time period (only 6 weeks);
2) Design to Cost - by providing a "kit" of raw materials from which the robot must be designed. No other parts are allowed; 
3) Design to Function - by requiring teams to build a robot that meets design restrictions such as size/weight and still performs specific tasks in the game to earn points. Students learn other aspects of product development such as advertising, fund raising, technical writing, business operations, teamwork and leadership, etc. There are no entry fees and all materials are provided for the participating schools. There are many hubs (local contest sites) throughout the United States. Each hub sets it's own budget, performs it's own fundraising and executes the local competition.  All hubs use the same game, kit materials and time-frame for the contest, as defined and controlled by BEST Robotics, Inc.  The budget for a typical hub is approximately $1200 per team.  Hubs host from 8 to 32 teams.

Community Stories

89 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the BEST program now for 3 years as a teacher/coach. Prior to this I had never even heard of Robotics. I can honestly say robotics, BEST Robotics, makes a difference in children's lives. I've seen young people, not knowing what they want to do in their lives, become interested and pursue degrees and careers in engineering after participating in Robotics. Robotics reaches a wide range of students with a wide range of talents. It is an outstanding opportunity to students to elarn more about the business and engineering world. It develops ther critical thinking skills, creativity and confidence! The best thing about BEST? It is a free organization for our students!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A colleague and I started the first BEST "hub" (competition site) in Alabama in 2001 and since then have had a hand in helping 20-plus other hubs get started around the country. There are now 47 sites in 16 states, with 8 here in Alabama. BEST is now entering its 19th year as a volunteer-run organization. It continues to have a profound impact on K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and the lives of thousands of students who participate in it. My experience in BEST has been the highlight of my 33 years in higher education and I count it a privilege to get to be a part of it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the BEST program for 10 years now as a student, a volunteer, and a mentor.

From all aspects, BEST has helped me immensely in my engineering career. The hands-on experience that I received in high-school as well as the interaction with mentors and teachers gave me a jump start on my college education. It has also given me valuable experience with some of the "soft skills" that engineers typically lack. I was ahead of my peers in skills such as presentation, communication (written and oral), and working on a team of engineers on a deadline with tight restrictions (budget and time).

As a mentor, I got a chance to see the competition from another angle. It was an experience to mentor participants and see their engineering and problem-solving skills take off in just 6 short weeks. I still see some of the students that I mentored on campus in engineering, and it is exciting to know that I may have had some small part in inspiring them to pursue engineering.

As a volunteer, I continue to give back to the BEST program, as I feel that more high school students should get the benefits that I received from the competition. As a volunteer, I am focused on providing the most consistent and exciting competition experience that I possible can for the students.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have volunteered as a judge of presentations and competition awards for elegance and robustness. It has been a pleasure working with the Best organizers and seeing the excitement from the students as they perform. I have volunteered for other non-profit organizations and BEST is by far the most well run and organized program.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved in BEST for several years, and I love it. It is the answer to sports dominated academics. Kids are able to have the thrill of competition, and at the same time, use their gifts of building, designing, writing, painting, calculating, teaming, problem solving, etc. It has an amazing impact on the kids who are involved. As a math teacher/sports coach, I see the kids develop an appreciation of math. Math is no longer a necessary evil, but a pathway to a future.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last fall we ran our first local competition. Once word got out about what we were doing, we were overwhelmed with schools who wanted to participate. We had to limit the number the first year. This year we will easily double in size and still have to limit the number of teams we can take. BEST is fantastic!

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 4

OKBest has been a great tool for kids. My students finally feel they have a place where knowledge is power. Robotics are now COOL. I'm thankful for this organization and wish it would have been around when I was in school.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first became involved with BEST in 2003 after being asked to help judge by a local professor and good friend. After the first hub event (then Alabama BEST) I was hooked. I was so thoroughly impressed by the program and by the enthusiasm of these remarkable students that I haven't missed the opportunity to judge at any our hub or regional events since! It was also my great pleasure to be part of the judging staff at the National Championship in 2010.

I know of no other program that offers students the opportunity to take part in such a "real world" engineering effort. BEST allows students of a wide range of skills and future career paths to come together in a team effort to design, build, promote, and support an engineered product. And what they accomplish along the way can only serve to grow them into truly successful people, no matter where their studies lead them.

As long as I'm able to support this wonderful process, how could I possibly not be involved?

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 5

My name is John Stewart and I was a sponsor of a robotics team at Seagoville High School. It is great to be able to allow students to be involved in an electronics competition that can be very expensive but of no cost to the students. The students through the years have continued to use their experience in scholarship and work applications.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered to be a judge in the 2010 New Mexico State University/BEST state competition. My educational background is electrical/computer engineering and I came to the competition with a bias for judging the exciting, "sexy," robot performance phase of the competition; however, what I discovered was, perhaps, more important than evaluating robot performance. At the competition I discovered the diversity of skills that could be utilized on a team.

BEST emphasizes much, much more than simply the math/engineering technical phases of project development, such as, community support, fund raising, team building, and record-keeping. The BEST competition provided an opportunity for students to recognize not only the importance of the technical contributions from students interested in building robots, but also, the significance of contributions from students with interests in business, photography and graphic design, project management, and communications.

One of our more successful teams included students who, of course, were programmers and physics students focused on robot performance, but the team had humanities/arts students working on photos and videos to document the robot development while business students organized presentations to the city council for support from their community during fund raisers. The BEST competition truly did help bring together a small but diverse community in support of their high school students as they built their robot.

I thoroughly enjoyed evaluating the teams and working within the BEST organization.

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 5

I am a parent/mentor for the Merrol Hyde Robotics Team, which is in it's third year of participation. This program has opened a new world to our school and students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to experience careers in the engineering field.

BEST’s (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology) mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, technology, and math through participation in a sports-like science and engineering-based robotics competition. United States undergraduate institutions award 16 percent of their degrees in sciences or engineering; South Korea and China award 38 percent and 47 percent, respectively. America ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering. This program aims to change America's ranking. The competition simulates a real world engineering and manufacturing company. The game objective is to produce a product, the robot, which is capable of performing a driver operated assigned task. The team must design, engineer, build, and program the robot. The robot has a specification of 2’ x 2' x 2' and weigh 24 lbs. Each team receives an identical set of parts, from their local hub, to produce the robot of their design. You cannot use any other parts. This keeps everyone on a level playing field. All robots go through a compliance check. The team also designs and builds a display booth which has a specification of 10’ x 10'x 10' for a product exhibit. An oral marketing presentation is given in front of a panel of judges who represent the company interested in purchasing the robot. A technical notebook is published describing the engineering process of developing the robot. This enormous undertaking is achieved in a short 6 weeks by 6th through 12th grade team members. Could your company do this? These students are very dedicated - giving up many after school hours, weekends, and even their Fall Break to accomplish this program. This team also designs and produces a team t-shirt, which represents the company uniform; maintains a webpage representing their team; have journalists and photographers; maintains a budget which must be presented to the judges. So as you can see, this is a fully functional engineering and manufacturing company. All of this prepares the students for an education in engineering and gives them the opportunity to explore a career that is in great demand in the United States.

Our school does not expose students to engineering courses and because of funding issues most schools do not offer Career Technical Education opportunities. This program fills that gap. This is a fully funded program so that teams can compete without expense, although top teams do spend varying amounts. The opportunity to fundraise gives students the additional experience of operating a real company that must raise capital.

Our team has had ten seniors graduate, seven have pursued engineering degrees, one political science, and two journalism.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was involved with the BEST competition for the first time this year. I volunteered to help as a judge. As someone who also works in a technical field, I was very encouraged to see so many young people get excited about technology. The BEST organiziation is a great way for students of all interests and ages to get involved. There is a role for each student to perfom regardless of technical ability.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The BEST competition helped me kick off a new program starting at our school. We had never had a robotics group and jumped into this competition to try and get one started. The support we got along every step of the way was enormous. The kick-off day had people who were dedicated to helping us understand what the end goals were and even included a "get started" workshop for us to begin the steps to building our robot. We had volunteer mentors who came to our school and helped my team work through the problem-solving and building that went in to getting ready for competition. We also utilized the ability to post questions and get advice from other teams, and even had a team allow us to go over and practice on their "field" and offer advice. We look forward to going back next year.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked the registration and information desk the past to years at the Tennessee Valley Best Robotics at Calhoun Community College. My experience with this event has been a very positive one. Both years I was able to help for my time slot and someone was there when my shift was finished. Also I had the opportunity to watch the event as a spectator while I was not working and the event seems to be a very educational experience for everyone involved!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Students got a hands on expierence by buidling and planning a desgin for the challenge that was given.

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 5

I am a robotics coach for a high school robotics team. We enter the BEST Robotics Competition each year. It is a fantastic experience for our high school students. Through this program, each team member learns and utilizes a variety of academic skills to achieve a team goal. Team members learn math, science, engineering, business, technology, and communications skills that will help them succeed in today's competitive business environment. BEST is fantastic program in which all students can be involved and become assets to the team.

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 5

My name is Dave Mixer. I have been part of Capitol BEST for Leander High School since they started within the Austix, Texas area back in 2000. For me, it is educational for the students to learn how to build the 'bot' for the contest and fun to see them compete.

Review from Guidestar

Greg Y.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved in BEST since 1995. Someone showed me some very raw video of a BEST contest in action one day at work. It caught my attention and I instantly signed on as a volunteer. I've never looked back. I am blessed to have been a part of the "BEST family" for so long. It inspires me. The students inspire me and the volunteers inspire me. It's incredible to think about how many students lives have been changed by this program over the last 18 years. It's fun, exciting, challenging, and educational all in one. There is no other program that I know of that provides students with such a diverse learning experience that prepares them for, not only STEM careers, but any career they choose. Our focus is on engineering, science, technology and mathematics and as an engineer myself I believe strongly in the mission. And I continue to spend countless hours doing it because of a personal satisfaction like none other. Like when a student approaches me after the contest and says "Thank you for giving me this opportunity"....that's all it takes.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with BEST for two years now. It presents a GREAT opportunity for middle and high school age children to learn - hands on - about science , technology and engineering.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began working with this group as a parent, but I found that I enjoyed working with this group of people. They are hard working and dedicated to helping our young people learn about life and the hard work it entails. My daughter is about to graduate college with a degree in EE and I owe all of that to BEST. She is a dedicated member of the board and even though it has been 5 years since she competed, I have been asked every year to help judge the presentations.

I enjoy that part so much that I clear my schedule when the call comes.

Review from Guidestar