Talladega High Career Technical Center, Hope Academy competing in robotics competition
by Kenny Farmer
TALLADEGA — Teams from Talladega High Career Technical Center and Hope Academy are headed to Auburn University Saturday to compete in the South’s BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) regional robotics competition.

The schools will compete against the top 56 robotics teams from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to determine the regional champion. The two teams from Talladega will be joined by the Episcopal Day School team from Gadsden, who placed first overall at the Central Alabama BEST competition. The competition will take place in the basketball arena at Auburn University beginning Saturday, with the winners announced on Sunday.

"We are very excited about our top three teams from Central Alabama BEST advancing to Auburn this weekend for South's BEST,” said Brian Gann, hub director for Central Alabama BEST. “I think Talladega Career Techncial Center, Hope Academy and Episcopal Day School will all be very competitive with their robot as well as in the BEST Award competition. I am just so proud to see the outstanding achievements of these students in science, technology, engineering, and math."

Talladega High Career Technical Center and Hope Academy advanced to the regional competition at Auburn after placing second and third at the Central Alabama BEST competition, which was held in October. Teams were given six weeks to build a robot capable of climbing, using a provided set of materials, and were judged on the categories of project engineering, marketing, team exhibition, spirit and sportsmanship.

"I think the city of Talladega should take a lot of pride in having two schools from within the city limits among the 56 top robotics teams east of the Mississippi River,” said Gann. “Talladega Career Tech and Hope Academy have both really embraced the BEST program in their schools and I have seen a lot of wonderful positive change in their schools in the last two years and I think Central Alabama BEST has helped to be a catalyst for that change. The city is being well represented this weekend with a great academic success and I think we all can take pride in that."

This year marks the 20th year of the BEST competition across the nation, but only the second for the Central Alabama hub, which is located at Central Alabama Community College’s Talladega campus. Hope Academy’s team advanced to the regional competition in 2011, but this will be this first year Talladega High Career Technical Center has advanced to the regional competition.

"It’s always exciting to see a school advance to the regional level for the first time,” said Gann. “Hope Academy advanced for the first time last year, so their students have a little better sense of what to expect and the level of competition they are facing. But I think the fact that Talladega is advancing for the first time will not hinder their chance for success in the game.”

Other local high schools participating in the competition this year were Winterboro, Talladega County Central, Pell City, Oxford, Munford, Lincoln, Childersburg and B.B. Comer.

"For all of our teams, regardless of whether they bring back any awards from Auburn or even for our schools who did not get to advance, they have all had great success just from what they have learned and continue to learn from BEST,” said Gann. “The skills and abilities this program provides are helping to prepare students for the workforce."

Contact Kenny Farmer at kfarmer@dailyhome.com.

© 2012