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Robotics competition, ‘Incision Decision,’ at NMSU winners announced

More than 170 middle and high-school students from across New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, gathered for the 2023 New Mexico Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, or NM BEST, Robotics competition Nov. 11.

Hosted by New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering Office of Outreach and Recruitment, the BEST competition engages middle- and high-school students with engineering and technology concepts and skills through participation in a robotics design challenge, marketing presentation, exhibit creation and an engineering notebook. Teams receive a kit of parts and electronics to design and manufacture remote-controlled robots to accomplish a specific task.

Winners of the 2023 “Incision Decision” competition include Rio Rancho Robotics Team, Lovington High School and Estancia High School. In addition to the winning teams, School of Dreams Academy, Los Lunas High School and J. Paul Taylor Academy from New Mexico, and Eastlake High School and Anthony High School from Texas will be advancing to the regional competition Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Dallas, Texas.

“BEST Robotics is a wonderful robotics program impacting students across the nation, by providing real-world engineering projects” STEM Program Manager Clara Raley said. “Every year we love providing this opportunity for students to practice entrepreneurial, project management, and, of course, robotics skills.”

This year, students were tasked with creating a robot that could perform minimally invasive surgery on the simulated body field that contained a heart, arteries and veins, and a brain. Their robot had to be able to accomplish several surgeries including cardiac valve repair, arterial plaque removal, and coronary artery bypass surgeries. This mirrors the real-world push for continued innovation in minimally invasive surgery.

“It is amazing that many of the BEST Robotics competitions have been so applicable to New Mexico’s economy, and the direct experiences of New Mexico students” Raley said. “Our STEM outreach efforts are important for meeting the workforce needs of our state, and competitions like BEST create a pivotal link in the pipeline.”  

NM BEST has been hosted by the College of Engineering since 2001 with participants going on to pursue engineering and other STEM-related fields at universities across the state. The program is offered at no cost to participating schools thanks to financial support provided by Sandia National Labs, Chevron and Exxon Mobil.