RCS Engineering students advance to championship competition

RCS Engineering students have become accustomed to winning, especially since the group recently secured their third trip in three years to the South’s BEST Championship competition in December after winning several awards at the Northwest Alabama BEST Hub competition on Oct. 19.

The competition, which was held at the Muscle Shoals campus of Northwest-Shoals Community College, featured 16 teams from north Alabama and southern Tennessee.

Out of those 16 teams, RCS Engineering was one of three teams to secure a spot at the South’s BEST Championship competition that will be held at in Auburn Dec. 6-8.

“Our students have worked extremely hard on all aspects of the competition, and I am very proud of what they have been able to accomplish so far this year,” said Lee Brownell, a teacher at Russellville Middle School and the sponsor for RCS Engineering.

“This is truly an extracurricular activity because it’s something the students participate in after school and after they are finished with other things like band or athletic practices.

“They had their kick-off for the year on Sept. 7, and I think they have done extremely well considering all they have accomplished in that short amount of time.

“To accomplish so much in so little time really says volumes about these kids’ abilities and how talented they are.”

RCS Engineering, which is comprised of students in grades 6-12, was judged on several categories including a robot the students built themselves; a trade show booth marketing their business, accomplishments and products; a project engineering notebook; and spirit and sportsmanship.

The group came in second place in the BEST Award category – an award named after the competition’s sponsor, BEST Robotics, Inc., which is a non-profit and volunteer-based organization whose purpose is to get middle and high school students interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The award means RCS Engineering came in second place overall in the regional competition and was the award that helped the group advance to the championship competition.

In addition to the second-place BEST Award, the group also won nine other awards, including second place for Robotics, first place for Spirit and Sportsmanship, second place for Best Teamwork, second place for Most Elegant Robot, second place for Best Robot Craftsmanship, second place for Best Project Engineering Workbook, third place for Creative Design, third place for Most Robust Robot and third place for Best Video.

Brownell said their first place award for spirit and sportsmanship was due to crowd participation and the RCS Engineering students volunteering to help other teams.

“We built a field where our students could practice using their robot in preparation for the competition,” Brownell said.

“We invited other teams to use our practice field and some of them did.

“Our students also took donations during the competition for breast cancer research and managed to collect a little more than $80.”

Brownell said the group received feedback from the judges and the students will be studying those notes in order to make changes and improvements for the championship competition in December.

Brownell said the group would also be sponsoring a barbecue plate dinner on Nov. 16 from 5-7 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Russellville to help raise money for the trip to Auburn.

Tickets can be purchased from any team member or purchased at the event. Plates are $7 each.

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