Hillcrest’s robotics team has had students move on to do significant things in engineering. They are the reigning champions of the Bison BEST robotics competition in the Northern Plains region which includes schools from the midwest and northeast United States. It is a premiere robotics showcase.

Over 36 schools made it to the Northern Plains championship this year, and 32 competed. Hillcrest stepped-in to continue their seven year dominance in the competition, behind a unique relationship the robotics club has with Hillcrest’s engineering class.

This year over forty students enrolled in engineering. Many from the class boarded a bus in their first month at Hillcrest to travel to North Dakota State University to research the field of play for the robot competition in November and December. The group studied obstacles and tasks the robot would need to overcome. They took measurements of tight corners the robot would need to speed around, plotting trajectories the robot would need to shoot projectiles to gain points. With their notebooks full, the class ventured back into Hillcrest’s maker-space, the former kitchen in the basement of the Castle that has become the home of the engineering program at Hillcrest Academy.

The class sat in small groups, plotting robot designs before venturing into the computer aided drafting component of the course. In choosing the best design, the class passed plans on to the robotics team, which began fabricating an actual robot using the engineering class’ build models from Hillcrest’s 3D printer.

In building the robot, the club inevitably pushes back on the design from the engineering class, and the two groups work to navigate the world of theory and practical design. Their work together is a test kitchen that many will live the rest of their careers in, challenging good ideas with practical building to find the best design.

Hillcrest has been in the top two places the past five years for the overall competition, usually holding the trophy for the Founders award. The founders award celebrates the best and most innovative design of the robot in the competition field. Hillcrest is most often the team with the target on their back, consistently coming up with the most creative and innovative designs.

Hillcrest continues to challenge students in the areas of philosophy, rhetoric, and logic, strong subjects that easily relate to a well-thought out Christian life. However, there is a strong history of practical science that lingers with sometimes seemingly less recognition. It should be noted that Hillcrest is a top school in the country in applied sciences, and the robotics team is proof that students at Hillcrest are creating things that may someday change and challenge the world. Many current students are forging fond Hillcrest memories of how they strengthened character while developing intellect in a strong faith-forming community at Hillcrest Academy.

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