OMHS robotics team headed to Auburn

Published 6:23 pm Friday, October 23, 2015

The OMHS robotics team is once again headed to Auburn for the next level of the BEST robotics competition. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

The OMHS robotics team is once again headed to Auburn for the next level of the BEST robotics competition. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—The Oak Mountain High School robotics team is headed to Auburn for the South’s BEST Regional Robotics Competition—for the eighth year in a row.

The BEST Robotics competition is far more than building a robot to navigate a course, it also includes strategizing, marketing and creative design. This year, students were tasked with creating a mining company.

“We have to present a robot that can go into a mine where humans can’t,” project CEO and OMHS junior Luke Rakers explained.

The 21-member team split into three groups to design and build the robot and present and market their music industry-themed company, Rock Miners.

Using the NASA certified engineering design process, the engineering group designed and built a robot to navigate the competition’s mine-themed course and collect various minerals. This year, the challenge also included a market shift, meaning the value of minerals changed depending on how much was collected.

“The point of market shift this year was to build a flexible robot,” junior Mohammad Zuaiter said. “You have to do some on-the-spot strategy.”

The OMHS engineers brainstormed, then created and programmed a robot. Using computer aided design software, they recreated each piece and the construction of their robot. They also kept a 50-page engineering notebook detailing their entire process.

“We have a lot of people dedicated to this team who put time into building this robot,” engineering division head and OMHS junior Lane Scott said.

Junior Lilly Cooper headed up the team’s marketing division, which created a presentation about the robot and business strategy.

“We have a small team,” Cooper said. “We have to give a presentation to the judges and explain to them why our robot is the best.”

The team’s creative division crafted a platform to display not only the team’s robot, but also the behind-the-scenes work the team did, including mentoring students at Oak Mountain Intermediate School. This year, the creative team built a booth designed to emulate the feeling of a backstage tour.

“We run with the theme once it’s decided,” head of the creative division and OMHS senior Mariah Schley explained. “It shows that we’re more than just a robotics team. We decided to do a walk-in backstage tour.”

The OMHS team’s months of hard work paid off. Out of 32 teams at the UAB Blazer BEST competition, OMHS placed third overall, second in sportsmanship, third in booth design, fourth in robot, fifth in engineering notebook and fifth in marketing presentation.

Now the team is focusing on perfecting their strategies for the Auburn competition on Dec. 5 and 6.

“Now we’re testing the robot and seeing what the flaws are so we can have the best product for our client,” Scott said.