Auburn University hosting National Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology Conference

AUBURN – The National Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology Conference takes place at Auburn University June 17 through June 20. The BEST conference is co-hosted by Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Representatives from each of the 35 BEST competition sites will gather at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center for the first time since Auburn University was named BEST headquarters in January.

BEST, the second-largest robotics competition in the United States, annually engages more than 12,000 middle- to high-school students in the project-based learning program. The stated mission of the non-profit, volunteer-based organization is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like, science- and engineering-based robotics competition.

“It’s important to note that BEST is not about building robots,” said Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach for the College of Sciences and Mathematics and a member of the BEST Board of Directors. “It has more to do with building leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills as well as giving kids a practical application of the science and math concepts they learn about in the classroom.”

Conference guests, including teachers and industry mentors who work directly with the students, will learn how to enhance their BEST participation at the local level in addition to implementing BEST into the classroom. Participants will interact with representatives from the Alabama Governor’s Office of Workforce Development; the State Department of Education; and industries such as Donaldson Corp. Speakers during the conference will include Ken Berry, assistant director of the Science and Engineering Education Center at the University of Texas at Dallas; and award-winning writer Celeste Baine, a biomedical engineer, who serves as director of the Engineering Education Service Center based in Springfield, Oregon.

“BEST is free to all schools,” said Ewald. “It’s the only program of its type in the country that doesn’t charge any participation fees and that is important to states with large rural populations like Alabama and Arkansas. We’re really excited about this program because it provides recognition for Auburn as a leader for science- and math-related outreach programs.”

Featured pre-conference workshops include Starting a Hub; New BEST Teachers; Intro to SolidWorks; and BRAIN Workshop. Conference sessions include cultivating community partnerships, organizing large teams for success and tips on how to successfully navigate a BEST competition. The conference also includes a Hyundai plant tour, a newly signed sponsor of BEST.

For more information on the event, contact Mary Lou Ewald at (334) 844-5745 ( or Christy Truitt at (334) 844-5890.

Contact: Christy Truitt, (334) 844-5890 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (