NDSU competition inspires student to become an engineer
Published November 24, 2015
Each year hundreds of middle and high school students from around the country meet at NDSU for a robotics competition. One of the goals of the sports-like event is to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields.
The NDSU College of Engineering hosts the event each fall. It is called BEST Robotics, which stands for boosting engineering, science and technology.
Not long ago, NDSU sophomore Britta Manning was one of the BEST Robotics competitors, and her experience made her want to become an engineer.
“My BEST experience was central to my decision to go to NDSU and become an engineer,” she said. “It has really helped me through a lot of my tough core engineering classes because I know that there's an answer, and with enough time and patience, I can get that answer.”
STEM education is a focus nationwide as career opportunities continue to grow. BEST Robotics is just one of the programs NDSU offers to get students interested in these disciplines long before they reach college. Like BEST Robotics, the programs give students hands-on experiences that make learning fun and reinforce what they are studying in school.
Manning, who is majoring in agricultural and biosystems engineering, participated in the BEST Robotics competition throughout her high school career. “The game itself helped me apply what I was learning in math and physics to something that was fun, and it got me hooked on problem solving,” said Manning.
NDSU has many programs to get kids involved in science, technology, engineering and math activities. An annual robotics competition helped shape a current student’s college and career choices.
Each year, BEST teams are given six weeks to design and build a robot to compete with other schools. The program also includes a marketing presentation, team exhibit and a spirit and sportsmanship component.
“Putting together a program and having so much control over the outcome of the game is really stressful, but incredibly satisfying when that program performs well,” said Manning.
Manning now volunteers at the BEST events as the lead judge of special awards. She’s hoping to inspire more students to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
“The thing I like most about NDSU is the different opportunities you can get through working in STEM. If it's working on campus doing research or finding a summer internship, NDSU has channels to get you there,” Manning said.
More than 160 area volunteers, consisting of business professionals and NDSU students and faculty, help manage the BEST competitions.
The NDSU-hosted Northern Plains BEST Robotics regional championship is scheduled Dec. 3 to 5 at the Fargo Civic Center.
For more information on BEST Robotics, visit www.ndsu.edu/coe/k_12_outreach/best_robotics.