December 2nd, 2012
70 degrees today here in Auburn, Alabama. Sunny skies, very little wind - just a delightful day. So what am I doing? I’m inside all day watching the South Regional BEST competition!
I’ve posted before about what BEST is, so will concentrate on today’s event in this post. Most of the day was setup and practice - actual competition didn’t begin until 5pm. These were preliminary, ’seeding’ matches - 4 teams competed at one time, with the best 2 moving on to tomorrow’s finals. On the ISEC Flickr account, I’ve posted the best of the pictures I took today - more tomorrow, I promise. Also, I’ll have a video tomorrow of one of the competition runs. I captured one today but it turned out to be of very poor quality. Memo to self - don’t use the zoom feature of my Canon point-and-shoot when recording video.
Each team was given a kit to make a climber out of. In this sense it is very similar to the LASER competition held by the Japan Space Elevator Association. The tether belt was shorter than the one at LASER - maybe 5-7 meters tall. There were various types of ‘payload’ that the Climbers had to grab and either go up the tether with it and put it in its proper location or else grab it from the top of the run and bring it back down to the bottom. The teams have 3 minutes to get as much payload moved as possible.
The results of the competition are only one part of a team’s final score. The booth they had, the engineering project workbook they made and a few other items all were part of it too.
The competition is really well organized. They have lots of judges and referees, teams are staged before they actually are let into the competition area, scores are kept electronically and, in general, it is a very orderly process. But it’s not quiet, oh no! Each team has a cheering section and it reminded me of a European Soccer match. Waving flags, chants, etc., and with music pounding in the background. Each team also has a mascot, so there were high-school kids dressed up as robots (many varieties), sharks, war eagles (the Auburn mascot) wandering around all day too, just to add to the festivities.
As ISEC is a sponsor of this event, we have our logo in all of the literature and it is also shown on the Scoreboard over the Arena - the first time, I think we’ve been up in lights! I also have my own table where I spent a good part of the day hanging around. I brought several copies of CLIMB, the ISEC Report on Space Debris Mitigation, posters from all 4 years, some Conference proceedings and a few copies of the National Geographic that the Space Elevator and ISEC was featured in. And, oh yes, lots of ISEC Business cards. I only put out half of the material today which was a good thing, because by the end of the day it was all gone. I’ll hand out the rest of it tomorrow. It was also a lot of fun talking to the competitors, their teachers and their parents about the Space Elevator. Even with the cold I have, all in all, a great day.
(Picture thumbnail is a close-up of one of the Climbers. Click on it to see a full-size version or visit our Flickr page (ISECdotORG) to see more photos).