Local teacher receives award during robotics competition at Northwestern State University

The Department of Engineering Technology at NSU hosted its annual Robotics Competition and Smart Structures Show (RC&S3) on Dec. 1. This event was conducted in person for the first time since the COVID shutdown. Many of the teachers expressed their happiness and excitement to return to normal life with in-person activities. Students clearly enjoyed scoping out the competition in real time and collaborating in a shared space. This year, 15 teams participated in the event from four different schools.

The winners of the competition are as follows:

1st place Caddo Middle Magnet School

2nd Place Donnie Bickham Middle School

3rd place North Desoto Middle School

A new award has been established in appreciation of the teacher’s effort. The winner of the Above and Beyond award for this year is Amanda Dollar from Natchitoches Magnet School. Amanda Dollar was the first to participate in the RC&S3 from Natchitoches Parish. Her team won second place last year. In addition, Dollar has implemented additional STEM curriculum in her classroom related to robotics and space exploration throughout the academic year 2020-2021. This is above and beyond!

“I’m beyond honored to accept this award,” said Dollar. “As a non-STEM major, I struggled with coaching our school’s Robotics Club. When we competed in the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) in Bossier, it felt out of my league and very impersonal. Connecting with the NSU Department of Engineering Technology, headed by Dr. Jafar Al-Sharab, was the best for me professionally and for my students. The professors helped me fill in the gaps in my own knowledge, and my students loved interacting with engineers in Natchitoches. As an English major, I never expected to be involved with robotics in any way. Last year, I implemented a robotics project in my fifth grade classroom. That would not have been possible without NSU.”

The Engineering Technology Department at Northwestern State University has hosted the RC&S3 for over seven years. There is no registration fee for the competition or show. The main goal of this tournament is to promote STEM-related activities, in hopes of guiding students towards a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This tournament is designed to be fun, while encouraging students to think above and beyond the limits of their normal robotics studies.

The event was sponsored this year by the Department of Engineering Technology at NSU and STEM Pioneers. The ET department at NSU hosts STEM activities related to robotics, coding, and engineering every year. For more information about these activities, you may contact the ET department head, Dr. Jafar AlSharab (Doc J), jafar@nsula.edu.