Members of RCS Engineering celebrate their advancement to the BEST championship competition in December.

Archived Story

RCS Engineering scores big

Published 6:02am Saturday, November 10, 2012

For the second year in a row, the students who are part of RCS Engineering will be heading to the South’s BEST Championship competition in December after winning several awards at the Northwest Alabama BEST Hub competition held at the Muscle Shoals campus of Northwest-Shoals Community College on Nov. 3.
The group came in second place in the BEST Award category, which is 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 became one of three teams out of the total 18 teams to advance to the championship competition held in Auburn on Dec. 1 and 2.
For the competition, RCS Engineering, which is considered a “business” for the purpose of the competition, were judged on several categories including a robot built to scale a 10-foot tall pole carrying different items; a trade show booth marketing their business, accomplishments and products; a marketing presentation given to “sell” their robot to potential “employers;” a project engineering notebook; and spirit and sportsmanship.
In addition to the second place BEST Award, the team also won seven other awards, including second place for Best Project Engineering Notebook, third place for Best Marketing Presentation, second place for Best Team Exhibit and Interview, third place for Best Spirit and Sportsmanship, third place for Most Elegant Machine (Robot), second place for Best Teamwork and first place for Best Team Web Page Design.
“The great thing about this competition is the fact that the students did all this by themselves for the most part, so this is a big win for them,” said Lee Brownell, a teacher at Russellville Middle School and the sponsor for RCS Engineering.
“It’s also a big deal for them because last year when we advanced to the next round, we were the only team at the regional competition who had any competitive experience and knew what to expect so we had a little bit of an advantage.
“This year there were more teams and teams who had experience, too, so to be able to advance to the next round in those circumstances is something to be proud of.”
Ashley Figueroa, an 11th grader, said this year’s competition was both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
“There are a lot of variables in a competition like this so you can prepare and prepare but you never really know what to expect,” she said. “You never know if the robot will work the way it’s supposed to or if everyone will remember their lines in the presentation.
“Overall, I think we had good teamwork and presented a good product.”
Ninth grader Rachel Balding said the judges at the competition gave the team feedback and things they could improve on.
“Basically in preparation for the championship competition, we just have to take the things they told us and use them to make improvements,” Balding said. “We’ll just work on the robot and on other aspects to make it the most efficient it can be because the judging will be tougher at the next competition so we have to be as perfect as we can be.”
Even though the students have done the hardest part in going through the competition and making it through to the next round, they still have financial hurdles to jump over before their trip will be a sure thing.
Last year the trip cost nearly $5,000 for the two-day competition in Auburn and all that entails, so to raise money for the upcoming expenses, RCS Engineering will be selling BBQ dinner plates with BBQ, beans and slaw for $7.
The plates will be distributed between 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at First Baptist Church in downtown Russellville.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through a member of RCS Engineering or by contacting Brownell at the school at 256-331-2120 or Tickets can also be purchased the night of the dinner at First Baptist Church.
Brownell said those who would like to give a monetary donation to help the team could do so through their award-winning website’s Paypal link at
Community members can also follow the progress of RCS Engineering through Twitter, Facebook and their website.

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