DMS robotics team improves finish in second competition year

“I’m so proud of this. I’m so excited.”

Ashley Brock couldn’t stop repeated how happy she was – and how surprised — with the results of the BEST regional robotics competition last weekend at Auburn University.

The robot that the Demopolis City Schools team had worked on for 10 weeks suffered an electrical short that couldn’t be repaired in time to compete during the first two rounds. While students managed to fix the robot for subsequent competitions, it wasn’t enough to lift them out of 55th place – out of 56—in the Game Placement category.

But when the overall results were emailed to Brock Friday, gloom was replaced with delight with the team’s standing in the other areas of competition, which brought overall standing to 27.

In the other four categories the Demopolis team ranked 13th in the Marketing Presentation; 21st in Team Exhibit and Interview; 22nd in Spirit and Sportsmanship, and 32nd in Engineering Notebook.

Brock said several coaches from other teams bragged on the Demopolis team exhibit and how the students interacted with visitors to their booth.

“It made me proud that they represented Demopolis so well,” she said.

The results also reflect well on the volunteer mentors that helped the marketing group, Elizabeth Smith and Amanda Barnes, she said.

She complemented all the adults to took their time to aid the group. “We couldn’t have more dedicated mentors.”

Brock took 33 students and some 20 chaperones on the overnight trip to Auburn. She had no behavioral issues, thanks in large part to the very supportive group of parents that pitched in.

Earlier this week, before the final results were sent, the robotics team “already had a meeting on what we can do better,” said Brock. “We’re already preparing for next year. Watch out.”

Because interest in the robotics competition has grown so rapidly, Brock said the number of members on the team may have to be limited. The BEST program encourages teams to be run like a business, so prospective team members may be required to be interviewed as if they were applying for a job.

Two other teams in the area competed only in the robot game placement. Sweet Water High School took ninth place, and Hale County ranked 15th.

Overall robot winner was Merrol Hyde Magnet School out of Gallatin, Tenn., and Central Magnet High School of Nashville took overall first place.

Despite the hiccups, the DMS team placed higher than its inaugural 2013 competition in which it finished 31 overall.