Science & Technology

UWF hosts 2015 Emerald Coast BEST robotics competition

The University of West Florida College of Science and Engineering hosted the eighth annual Emerald Coast BEST robotics competition at the UWF Field House on Saturday.

Student teams from 18 area high schools and middle schools participated in “Pay Dirt,” a competition in which each team designed and built a robotic system to repair a simulated mine and retrieve its resources. The teams were evaluated based on robot performance, notebooks, marketing presentation, team exhibit, spirit and sportsmanship.

Advancing to Regional Robotics Championship at South’s BEST

Hosted by Auburn University on Dec. 5 and 6, 2015

Robot: Pace High School

BEST 1: Seaside Neighborhood School

BEST 2: Woodham Middle School

BEST Award

The BEST Award is presented to the team that best embodies the attributes associated with “Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology” in its development, which include teamwork, diversity of participation, sportsmanship, creativity, ethics, positive attitude and enthusiasm, school and community involvement, and exposure to and use of the engineering process. The first-place winner of the 2015 BEST Award was Seaside Neighborhood School, followed by Woodham Middle School in second-place and Woodlawn Beach Middle School in third-place.

Robotics Award

Awarded to the teams whose machines finish first, second and third in the tournament bracket. The first-place winner of the robotics award was Pace High School, followed by Tate High School in second-place and Seaside Neighborhood School in third-place.

Dr. Bradley Regez, program manager and instructor for the UWF Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, leads the Emerald Coast BEST steering committee. Dr. Mohamed Khabou, associate professor and chair of the UWF Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is also a part of the committee along with several other University and community representatives.

“Each year that I am given the chance to participate in the Emerald Coast hub, it’s an opportunity to help students learn,” said Regez. “These kinds of competitions are great for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math because they provide opportunities for hands-on experience and seeing a project from start to finish.”

Sponsors for the 2015 competition included AT&T; Gulf Power; the Northwest Florida chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers; the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; and International Paper. R. Vaughn Nichols, key account manager at Gulf Power, is one of many volunteers that are important to the event’s success.

The annual competition is coordinated through BEST Inc., a non-profit, volunteer-based organization. Its name stands for Boosting Engineering Science and Technology, and its mission is to inspire middle and high school students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in the sports-like robotics competition.

The Emerald Coast BEST hub is the only one in Florida. The hub is funded completely by corporate and individual sponsorships, which provide each team with a material kit to build the robots. No fees are paid by students or schools that participate in the BEST robotics competitions.

For additional information about the Emerald Coast BEST robotics competition, visit