Located at the end of the Chisholm Trail, Fort Worth, Texas is well known for its western heritage and its long association with the cattle trade. Fort Worth is also the home of the Cowtown BEST Robotics hub. Cowtown BEST has been sponsored by Lockheed Martin since its inaugural season of 2001. Hosting duties for Cowtown BEST are rotated through area schools and in 2019, Game Day was held at Martin High School in Arlington. More than sixty volunteers come together to make sure Cowtown BEST runs efficiently and to ensure all competitors have a great time.
Each year, Cowtown BEST draws robotics teams from all over the western Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex and surrounding counties to compete for a chance to advance to the Texas BEST Regional Championship in Frisco, Texas. Teams come from high schools, middle schools, charter schools, and homeschool organizations. More than three hundred students participate in the hub each year. Most students plan to complete a STEM degree in college. These student’s experiences in Cowtown BEST give them a head start on their technical education and looks great on their college applications.
David Kwast has been the Cowtown BEST hub director since 2013. David’s first exposure to BEST Robotics was as a coach for his son’s high school team. Flying under the radar as a new team, this team went on to win 1st place at Cowtown BEST by a single point. He fondly recalls working with the students that season and how excited they were in competing. David is often asked by other parents how to get their children involved in robotics. He recommends BEST Robotics as well as FIRST and VEX. Many of his former students have gone on to earn technical degrees. One student became a Disney Imagineer before ultimately landing as a product development engineer. As a hub director, he is confident that the Cowtown BEST hub volunteers and competition inspire students to seek STEM degrees in college.
Cowtown BEST goes the extra mile to ensure the students competing have an exciting experience. The volunteers spend extra time on painting and decorating the game field for the participants. Cowtown boasts a large audiovisual team to enhance the game presentation. Led by Stephanie Tabije, Mark Tabije and Juan Martinez, this team makes the event rock! Cowtown BEST encourages the teams to highlight themselves with a video. All submitted videos are played during hub competition. The winning video entry earns a Video Showcase Award. During the Off the Grid competition, a crew from Oncor came out and gave an outdoor demonstration of power line safety that featured actual electrical current. This demonstration promoted downed power line safety in an exciting format for participants.
The Cowtown BEST volunteers have had to overcome many challenges over the years. The Covid epidemic was tackled by using the classroom format. This allowed students to compete online live from their school using their actual robot. Cowtown BEST was proud to offer the opportunity to compete live to its teams for two seasons. In 2010, the hub experienced scoring system problems. The volunteers worked through lunch to redo all scores resulting in only a thirty-minute delay to the event.
Cowtown BEST supports their teams in a variety of ways. Mentors are assigned to first year teams to help them grow into the competition. These mentors are BEST Alumni or retirees with the time to help a team get on track. Team coaches are also provided with targeted training meant to help them compete at a high level.
Hub Spotlight submitted by Trenton High School:
Haley Boggess – High School Class of 2024
Kyle Osborne – High School Class of 2023
Emory Williams – High School Class of 2023