WIRED Robotics Team Advances to Texas BEST State Regional Championship
The WIRED robotics team of Westbrook Intermediate in Clear Creek ISD won first place overall at the North Houston BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) Robotics Competition held on October 28, 2023. The team also finished 1st place in the Robot Award (game), Team Exhibit and Interview, and Engineering Notebook categories.
The competition was hosted at Lone Star College in Kingwood, Texas, with a total of 22 teams including 18 high schools, 2 home school organizations, and 2 intermediate schools. Unlike many robotic competitions where scoring in the game is of utmost importance, BEST is unique in that it emphasizes excellence in the engineering notebook, marketing presentation, exhibit booth and interview, spirit and sportsmanship, and robot performance combined.
WIRED is a team composed of 29 sixth, seventh and eighth graders, most of which are in the WAVE GT Magnet Program in CCISD. Led by NASA robotics engineer and mentor, Les Quiocho, and faculty advisor, Nichole Toalson, this is the 24th year the team has been competing in BEST. Other adult mentors from NASA and local industry professionals, along with parent volunteers, assist with drive team coaching, robot build safety, programming, marketing critique and website development. The WIRED team culture is based on older students training younger students to take over as team leads when the older ones move up to high school.
WIRED students decide how to build the robot from scratch depending on the challenge of the annual competition. At kickoff, each participating team receives a box including PVC, plywood, plastic/metal sheets, string, rubber inner tube, wire, nuts, bolts, and screws and other various parts, as well as electronics components (e.g., motors, joystick controller, microprocessor, etc.). This year’s challenge, Incision Decision, is based on minimally invasive robotic surgery where the operator controls a robot through a series of different medical procedures. WIRED’s robot, Asclepius Surgical Robotic Assistant (SRA), had to be programmed and controlled to perform autonomous brain biopsies, arterial plaque removal, cardiac ablation, heart valve replacement and cardiac angioplasty or insertion of an arterial stent.
"Because of its longstanding history, WIRED is known in the Houston robotics community as a team that will mentor other teams and help them out as much as possible," said Quiocho. "The team also hosts numerous community outreach events each year to educate the public about the benefits of BEST Robotics and WIRED. This year’s events included the Cosmic Ice Cream Social and running the concessions stand at the North Houston BEST Competition. The community outreach team also visited local elementary schools and conducted engineering activities with the younger students to spread the word about WIRED, BEST robotics, and STEM."
WIRED is advancing to the Texas BEST Regional Championship in Dallas, Texas, on November 30-December 2, 2023. The team will be competing in all BEST Award categories against the top teams from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and Arkansas, many of which are engineering magnet high schools. This is the 17th year WIRED has advanced to Texas BEST.