Georgia BEST Robotics is based in Atlanta, Georgia. They service the greater Atlanta Metro Area and the surrounding suburbs. When Georgia BEST started in 2003, its founder, Glenn Allen, was a professor at Southern Polytechnic State University. He got hooked on everything that was BEST and sought to bring the community together. Driven by Mr. Allen’s energy, BEST Robotics was a huge hit and took the city of Atlanta by storm. Georgia BEST was a great success until 2012, when Mr. Allen passed away. Over the next three years, Georgia BEST continued to be run by Kennesaw State University, a local college,until a group of student alumni received news that KSU would no longer be able to oversee the competition and decided to take over the leadership roles to ensure Georgia BEST could live on.
One of the unique characteristics of Georgia BEST is that it is almost entirely run and organized by BEST Alumni. They do not have any formal ties to any higher education institutions. BEST Robotics made such an impact on these former BEST participants, that they would do anything to ensure future generations of students would have the same experience they did. BEST Robotics was their motivation. “When there were gaps that needed to be filled, it was such a no-brainer for so many of the alumni who were still in town to say that this needs to happen,” explained Matt Barulic. As new directors, they were so excited about taking over Georgia BEST that they once covered the entire playing field in glitter. Also because they are younger and having played the game themselves, they are able to incorporate newer technology and look at the game from an insider’s perspective.
The core group of volunteers for Georgia BEST are Hub Director Matt Barulic, Hub Coordinator Jessie Liu, Hub Advisor Dr. Debi Huffman, and planning committee members Dennis Jin and Brenden Smothers.. Together, they ensure every team that wants to participate is able. Georgia BEST has a total of 15 state sponsors that allow them to offer this robotics competition at no cost for participating teams. H.B. Fuller is one of their primary sponsors.
Matt Barulic spoke about one of his favorite Georgia BEST memories. During the 2017 game, “Crossfire,” there was a small mannequin made from string and PVC that needed to be saved from a fire. During one of the matches, the mannequin became untied. Instead of stopping the game and pausing everything, they created a fun scene where they performed CPR, trying to save his life and got the whole crowd involved. They had a wireless camera with a live feed displaying what happened onto the video screens. Everyone cheered and had a great time.
Hub Spotlight submitted by:
Hutto High School – Ethan Carrington, Isaiah Neilson, Almamy Diaby, Brenda De Castro