For more than 700 middle and high school students, six weeks of hard work will culminate this Saturday in the biggest Game Day event in the history of Blazer BEST Robotics.
The event will feature a record 30 teams of locall students who have constructed robots to conduct a simulated mining operation. The robots will be scored on how they complete various parts of the task during three-minute matches on the floor of Bartow Arena. Because of the large number of teams, the event will require the use of two playing floors for the first time in Blazer BEST history, with action taking place simultaneously on both floors throughout most of the day.
“We have condensed some parts of the schedule so that practices and certain parts of the competition, such as the marketing presentations, can be held on Friday,” said Lyn Lewis, Blazer BEST co-director. “We hope the new format will not only be more efficient, but will provide a more exciting environment for spectators who want to come out and watch the competition.”
Blazer BEST, now in its eighth year, is sponsored by the UAB School of Engineering and is coordinated each year by an army of volunteer workers, referees, and judges. In addition to the robotics portion of the competition, teams are judged on marketing presentations, project notebooks, exhibits, and sportsmanship.
Teams are able to participate in the event at no charge, but in order to cover the cost of the recent growth of the event, the School of Engineering has launched a crowdfunding effort.
“We believe strongly in the skills this event teaches and the values it helps instill in the students who participate,” says SOE Dean Iwan Alexander, Ph.D. “Our hope is that people in the community also recognize that value and will help support our efforts to make this a world-class experience.”
Jianyi (Jay) Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering was appointed to the T. Michael and Gillian Goodrich Endowed Chair of Engineering Leadership earlier this month by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.
The chair was established by the Goodrich family in 2008 as an extension of a gift agreement already in place since 2002 that supported a variety of research and education initiatives across UAB. The intention of the endowed chair was to enhance the mission of the School of Engineering through the recruitment and retention of faculty who are able to make a significant and valuable contribution to the university and to the advancement of engineering research and education.
Zhang, who took over as department chair on October 1, will have the opportunity to shape the identity of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, which was recreated as a joint department between the UAB Schools of Engineering and Medicine in February 2014.
More than 200 people filled the UAB Alumni House on Thursday, October 1 to learn from experts from around the world on matters concerning urban sustainability and development at the 2015 Sustainable Smart Cities Symposium.
The symposium, organized by the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center, is an annual event that focuses on the innovations—such as big data, renewable energy and smart mobility—being used to help make Birmingham and other cities around the world smarter, safer and more livable.
In opening remarks, center director Fouad H. Fouad, Ph.D., who is also chair of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, celebrated UAB’s collaborations with the city and called Birmingham’s new bike-share program “a big step forward for sustainability.”
Landscape architect Thomas Woltz, who was named Design Innovator of the Year for 2013 by the Wall Street Journal, was the event’s keynote speaker. Woltz designed a block-long park and plaza to adjoin Alabama Power Company’s Powell Avenue Steam Plant redevelopment near Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham. He said on Thursday that the new plaza should evoke the Magic City’s geology, rich history and industrial heritage. “I hope this is a place where you can come with your children and tell stories about what you are as a city,” he said.
Students, parents, cheerleaders, hundreds of mall shoppers, and of course, robots.
Blazer BEST Mall Day at the Riverchase Galleria on Sunday, exposed the best of Blazer BEST to tremendous crowds, as students from 32 local teams met over a three-hour period to test their robots on the 2015 BEST game floor for the first time.
The teams now have two weeks to correct any issues they found before Blazer BEST Game Day on October 10.
The 32 teams are the most ever for Blazer BEST, which will utitlize two playing fields simultaneously for the first time in the event's eight-year history.
Blazer BEST is free to participating schools.
In order to continue to provide the event at no charge, the School of Engineering has launched a crowdfunding effort in hopes that alumni and former BEST participants will help support this important outreach event.