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Future engineers test skills in NMSU competition

On Saturday, Oct. 27, 16 middle- and high-school teams from New Mexico and west Texas will be competing in the 2007 Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) robotics competition, 2021: A Robot Odyssey. The competition is sponsored by the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University.

This year, each team will build a robot to help prepare Mars for a human colony. The tasks involve unloading supplies from an unmanned supply ship and storing the supplies for the planned colony.

The competition will be held at the Fitness Center at the Holloman Air Force Base in conjunction with the X Prize Cup, an annual rocket festival that allows for privately financed, passenger-carrying space vehicles to compete for prizes. The competition will run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Marion Blakey, a recently retired administrator from the Federal Aviation Administration, will give a short talk to competing students. Blakey is being honored at the X Prize Cup.

Each participating school may enter only one team and each team is given the same set of resources to use in the design and construction of their remote-controlled robot. They are given six weeks to complete their projects.

While the teams produce their robots, they also document their efforts as part of the BEST award portion of the competition (which also takes place at Game Day) to describe to a panel of judges what their team has done to Boost Engineering, Science, and Technology in its school and community.

The BEST robotics competition exposes middle- and high-school students to the concepts of engineering and technology by allowing them to use their math and science skills in competition.

For more information, contact Sheila Horan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NMSU, at (575) 646-6288 or sheila@nmsu.edu or visit http://www.ece.nmsu.edu/nm_best or http://www.bestinc.org/.