Penn State DuBois hosts regional robotics competition

DuBois-based Atlas Pressed Metals helps sponsor event for middle and high school students

Encouraging young people to take an interest and become excited about science and technology is an idea that Atlas Pressed Metals takes to heart. Recently, the DuBois-based powdered metal manufacturer helped sponsor the regional preliminary round of the BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) robotics competition, which was held on the Penn State DuBois campus.

The event drew seven teams of middle and high school students, which designed and built robots to successfully complete a unique challenge. The teams had six weeks to not only build the machines, but also develop value propositions and conduct market research, which was collectively presented to a panel of judges as a pitch before the team robot demonstrations. Teams were also evaluated on exhibition, sportsmanship and team spirit.

Atlas Pressed Metals senior metallurgist Craig Stringer helped by providing coaching and professional tips to one of the local teams, DuBois Central Catholic (DCC). The school’s team also worked with Atlas’ director of sales and marketing, Sally Moran. DCC was one of four area schools whose teams are moving on to compete at the regional level at North Dakota State University Dec. 4-6. Also advancing are DuBois Area High School, Brockway Area High School and Ridgway Area High School. Overbrook High School of Philadelphia also advanced out of the Penn State DuBois preliminary round.

“The BEST competition allows students to work together in engineering and technical problem solving,” Stringer said. “The event is valuable in terms of academic skills, like technical literacy, and job skills like teamwork, leadership and business strategy, while bringing awareness to technology careers in an inspirational and exciting format.”

This is the first year the BEST preliminary round has been locally hosted. Teams also hailed from Redbank Valley and Williamsburg Christian Academy, all convening at Penn State DuBois. The staff and faculty at the Penn State DuBois campus also played a role within the overall competition; providing judges, support personnel during the day of competition, course construction and supplying robot kits to each of the teams.

“We were pleased to host BEST on our campus because it represents so many of the values that are important to us at Penn State DuBois such as respect for others, integrity, and collaboration,” said Penn State DuBois Chancellor Melanie Hatch. “Not only does it provide outstanding, hands-on lessons in math and science to the students who participate, but the competition also makes working with these subjects fun. It gets young people excited about science and engineering fields by showing them how gratifying it can be to see a project come to life, and has the potential to ignite a passion in them for a future career. 

“We are proud that these teams, which have now advanced to the next level of this national competition, got their start at our campus. We wish them the best of luck in Fargo," Hatch said.

Along with Atlas Pressed Metals, the Fairman Family Foundation sponsored the event, and the Missile Defense Agency STEM Outreach provided a grant.