Marksmen Build Their BEST Robot

On Saturday, October 19, 2019, the St. Mark’s Robotics Team competed in the Dallas BEST (Boosting Engineering Science & Technology) Robotics Tournament. Competing against 30 other schools, Marksmen used their robot, built in a six-week window, to perform a variety of timed tasks. Themed “Off the Grid,” this year’s game field required the robots to “restore electrical power” by reconnecting electrical lines (pieces of rope) to four-foot-tall transmission towers. There were also various repair-themed activities, such as delivering supplies, for which the robots could attempt to score points. After the judges considered each team’s performance, engineering process, scientific writing, interviews, marketing presentation, and more, St. Mark’s finished third overall and took home the “Most Robust Robot” award.

“I’m extremely proud of the Robotics Team,” said Fletcher Carron, Stephen M. Seay ’68 Science Department Chair and Robotics Team Co-Sponsor. “It was a blast working together to build the robot, and it provided great hands-on experience to prepare the boys for careers in science and engineering.”

Members of the Robotics Team met nearly every day after school and most weekends to get their robot ready for the competition. In addition, the students created presentations, kept detailed notes, designed a display booth, and built a practice game space in the lobby of the Winn Science Center.

“There is so much work behind the scenes, and the boys cooperated as a true team by dividing up responsibilities and completing them all,” said Stewart Mayer, St. Mark’s Makerspace Director and Robotics Team co-sponsor. “We are also fortunate to have some very supportive parents that keep our team fed during the late nights and weekends.”

As the highest-scoring non-UIL team, St. Mark’s secured a spot in the next stage of the BEST Tournament. In December, the team will travel to Frisco to compete in the Regional Competition against 70 qualifying schools from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

Congratulations to the members of the St. Mark’s Robotics Team: Faraz Asim ’20 (co-president), Meyer Zinn ’20 (co-president), James Shiao ’20, Andres Arroyo ’20, Pablo Arroyo ’20, Rohit Vemuri ’20, Varun Trivedi ’21, Antonio Quinones ’21, Mason Westkaemper ’21, Ryan Park ’21, Jacob Bell ’21, Jordan Gaines ’21, Cooper Ribman ’21, Tim Weigman ’21, James Singhal ’22, Ian Lin ’22, Tomek Marczewski ’22, Renil Gupta ’23, and Will Spencer ’23

Doug Rummel, Stewart Mayer, and Fletcher Carron serve as faculty sponsors.

The BEST (Boosting Engineering Science & Technology) Competition was created in 1993 by two Texas Instruments engineers to encourage student interest and foster hands-on learning in STEM. Today, the competition includes more than 18,000 students participating on more than 850 middle and high school teams across the United States. St. Mark’s has participated in the BEST Competition since 2003 and has represented the Dallas Hub at the Texas State Championship 13 of the past 16 seasons. In September, St. Mark’s hosted the kick-off day for BEST, which drew more than 300 students and teachers to campus.
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