DMS Robotics team has strong showing, now eyes regional competition

B1YsUrhIAAEIqPVEven though the Demopolis robotics team continues to wait for its score sheets, members already are hard at work improving their presentation for the next level of competition.

The local team, composed of middle and high school students, came in second at the area competition held Nov. 1 at Shelton State in Tuscaloosa. It is a place they know, since the team came is second in the 2013 competition as well.

Now they are preparing for the regional competition among more than 50 schools from throughout the southeast that will be held in the new arena at Auburn University Dec. 6.

“They were so excited,” said robotics team sponsor Ashley Brock of her students. “I was jumping up and down,” which had some people concerned since Brock is five months pregnant.

Demopolis took two firsts and two seconds in individual portions of the Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) event at Shelton State. Two areas they are working on now is the performance of the robot and the educational booth.

The robot design was fine, Brock said. Where the team fell down was from a lack of practice to make sure the robot could perform as many of its functions as possible in the three-minute time allotment.

Even with lack of practice the Demopolis robot made it into the semi-finals.

With three weeks left until the Auburn competition, the group has given itself a deadline of next weekend to finish any upgrades on the robot so that the drivers can have plenty of time to practice and plan their strategy to accumulate as many points as possible.

The goal for the Auburn competition is to improve on their No. 26 standing from 2013. At that event Brock was honored as the BEST Teacher of the Year.

Brock beams with pride when she talks about her students, their mentors and parents and everyone who has pitched in to help this fall.

“Everybody seems really happy,” she said. “Parent have been great.”

That support helped the team bring home a second in spirit and sportsmanship. Lots of Demopolis fans traveled to Shelton State for the competition, were loud and excited, waved the posters and signs made by cheerleaders and even brought along the Tiger mascot.

Brock expects the same enthusiastic group to be in Auburn.

“It’s exciting because (BEST) is growing and growing,” said Brock. She expects the program will expand beyond the four regionals it now sponsors, especially since corporations see the benefits of getting behind BEST for their own futures.