FORT CARSON, Colo. - Six Soldiers from the 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) showcased EOD-specific tools and equipment, during the first Denver regional Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) robotics championship, Dec. 16-17, 2017, at the Auraria Campus Events Center, Metropolitan State University.
The competition is designed to encourage young minds to consider a career in science technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
The 71st EOD Soldiers provided an interactive display that highlighted some of the technology developed by professionals in these fields. The Soldiers also helped judge and present awards during the two-day competition.
More than 25 schools from across Colorado and New Mexico competed in the event. In addition, the competition attracted approximately 1,000 students, Family members and spectators. With so many people in attendance, the competition also served as an opportunity for the Soldiers to showcase what they do and the robots that help them accomplish their mission.
Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Weimer, senior enlisted leader, 242nd Ordnance Battalion, along with Soldiers from the 62nd, 663rd, and 764th Ordnance Companies, constructed an interactive display that included bomb disposal robots, X-ray systems, ordnances, mock improvised explosive devices, bomb suits and other EOD-specific tools.
"The young men and women seeing this today will likely be designing the bomb disposal robots of tomorrow," said Weimer.
The display also provided students and attendees with a unique opportunity to not only operate, but complete various tasks commonly required of EOD robots and the Soldiers who operate them.
The intent of this type of competition is to engage, excite and inspire students. BEST provides participating schools with a baseline kit of robotics parts, a framework of rules, and a specific mission that the student-designed robots must complete.
The mission changes from year-to-year and is a closely held secret. In previous years, the mission included farming, space elevator and mining-related missions. This year, the mission was based on fire rescue.
To be competitive - to win - each team's robot had to be capable of tasks, such as secure and move a scaled-down human mannequin to a safe location, grasp and move three barrels to a designated area, and accurately launch fire-retardant packs at multiple targets.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jose Lopez, executive director of the Rocky Mountain BEST chapter and engineering lecturer at MSU Denver, said the tasks closely resembled tasks performed by EOD Soldiers.
Weimer said being a part of the competition helped students to visualize actual applications that their robots could be used for to make a difference in people's lives.
"These students are both the Army's future and the EOD program's future; if not as Soldiers, then as Scientists or Engineers that design the next round of technology that saves lives," said Weimer.