Thursday, October 18, 2007

Calhoun County students build robot for competition at Auburn University

Career Tech students Caleb Sweatt, left, and Kyle Crumley work on their robot while other students look on in the background. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star

JACKSONVILLE — Skylor O’Kelley needs a bigger drill bit.

He cut holes in an aluminum bar at the Calhoun County Career Technical Center on Wednesday, but they didn’t quite align.

The bar will attach to a forklift robot that students from all over the county school system will enter in a competition Saturday at Auburn University.

“This is more involved than the stuff we usually work on,” said O’Kelley, an 11th-grade machining student at the center. “I can’t wait to see it work.”

A team from the county’s gifted education program will compete against more than 20 others and try to move the most boxes and bottles across a stage.

Alabama Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, organizer of the competition, gave each team materials ranging from plywood and PVC pipe to motors and golf balls.

“Kids flock to this stuff,” said George Blanks, an Auburn engineering professor and director of the BEST competition.

“It’s cool to build something from nothing.”

John Moore, a teacher in the county’s gifted program, said about 20 of his students debated using a forklift, bulldozer, crane and even helicopter design.

But they didn’t have the proper equipment to build their final idea.

So he took the design to the career tech center, where precision machining students are building the robot this week.

“Our tools were so crude, the wheels fell off when we tested the one we built,” he said.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without these students up here. It’s been great seeing such a cooperative effort with students who wouldn’t associate with each other having to work together.”

See the full story here.

For more information about Alabama BEST, go here.

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