Monday, August 25, 2014

BEST 2014 Kick Off Coming Soon

The kick off of BEST Robotics 2014 is coming soon! In less than a month, teams from across DeKalb, Jackson and Marshall Counties will gather at the Tom Bevill Lyceum on the campus of Northeast Alabama Community College to learn about the game for this year and to receive the kits.

Has your team registered? If not, please click on the Eventbrite registration link on the right side of this page.

Are you ready for BLADERUNNER???

Thursday, August 21, 2014

hitchBOT: Hitchhiking Across Canada

So you are driving along when you see a robot standing on the side of the road...hitchhiking...

That is precisely what happened to a number of people in Canada recently when hitchBOT, a preschooler-sized robot made of a beer cooler, a cake keeper, rubber gloves and blue foam tubing. The robot, designed by communications professors Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University and David Harris Smith of McMaster University, was designed to explore the interaction between humans and robots.

Read the entire story from the Los Angeles Times here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Registration Ends September 6

Registration for Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics ends September 6. If your team has not yet registered, please be sure to sign up. The process is simple and quick. Just visit our Eventbrite site to sign in.

There is a link to our registration page on every page of this website. Just look in the right margin.

Monday, August 18, 2014

North Sand Mountain is Registered

We are pleased to announce that North Sand Mountain School has registered for 2014 Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics! We are excited to have North Sand Mountain join us again for 2014!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative is Sponsor!

Sand Mountain Electric CooperativeNortheast Alabama BEST Robotics is pleased to announce that Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative has come aboard as a sponsor for 2014. We thank General Manager/CEO Mike Simpson and Diane Hale, Manager of Member Services and Public Relations for their commitment to STEM education in northeast Alabama!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Woodville High School is Registered!

We are pleased to announce that Woodville High School is registered for Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics 2014. Welcome to Stormy Stevens and the Woodville HS Panthers.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ider High School Registered for 2014 Season!

Ider High School has officially registered to be part of Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics for the 2014 season. A perpetual strong contender, the Steel Heads of Ider, are led by Sharlyn Huber.

We are excited to have Ider on the roster for this year!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fort Payne High School is Registered!

Fort Payne High School, which has been a tough contender in past years, is registered for BEST Robotics 2014. We are excited to have FPHS on board this year!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cyber Security Expert Talks Risk & Career Opportunities

Northeast Alabama Community College held the first Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Speakers Forum on campus July 31.

The purpose of the Speakers Forum is to raise awareness of the STEM programs offered at the college and the significance of these areas as vital to the future of the country and essential for area economic development.

Dr. Joe Burke, Vice President/Dean of Instruction introduced guest speaker, Jim Simon. Simon is CEO of a privately held management-consulting firm specializing in advising companies and governments around the world on a variety of matters including business development, contract capture, M&A, as well as strategic program initiatives, was the guest speaker. He also serves on the adjunct faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice at The University of Alabama. He retired in 2012 as Microsoft’s Chief Strategist for its worldwide public sector and its executive sponsor for the State of Alabama. Simon served in the US Army and was a principle negotiator for the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and a career CIA analyst.

He began his lecture emphasizing change. “Change is part of our cyber issues--nobody likes change,” he offered. “This is the primary problem with change. Only a few people are on the frontline of change. In the cyber world, change is everything.”

According to Simon, if you are employed in the world of cyber-security, be prepared to work around the clock. “It’s a young person’s (ages 18-22) game,” he said.

He also explained that employers really care about education and literacy. “Microsoft has 120,000 employees. When Microsoft hires someone, they will ask, ‘what do you read?’ Your answer matters. Do you read mysteries? In the cyber-world, this indicates a bent toward problem-solving.”

“A ‘free’ USB drive is one of the easiest ways for someone to access your computer’s data,” offered Simon. “Twitter is the #1 favorite tool for gangs and serial rapists. They track your activity for the past two weeks and use that to follow you. Turning off your location-finder helps a little. Rich people tend to Tweet when they buy something. Facebook, Twitter, and social media are the #1 reasons potential employees fail their polygraph test. Companies can pick and choose their employees. Some employees make upwards of $500,000 per year before bonuses. Governments cannot, in most cases, compete with this type of pay. Some companies are subsidiaries of criminal gangs. Employees don’t know they are participating in a crime. The company’s bureaucracy knows it.”

Simon also explained that he knows someone who had her identity stolen who had several warrants out for her arrest due to income tax evasion. He advised no banking over the phone.

He added, “Any time there is an announcement of a big change in existing software, an increase in cyber-attacks occurs before the technology becomes obsolete; i.e., just before the new iPhone comes out. Most cyber conflict is being engaged in by only a few countries. Big governments don’t do as much of this anymore because they can’t figure out the consequences. If I have a cyber-weapon and use it on you, then you have a copy of it. Then you might modify it, and maybe improve it, then you are able to send it back. Many attacks occur with the insertion of random numbers which makes your device not always operate properly. It will do strange things. Whenever a newer version of your device comes out, buy the new version. This is expensive, but there has been more time to study the old device. Not true of the newer version of the device. Beware of customization. Open-source code is less expensive but more susceptible. If your phone is doing something weird, get it checked out. It could be very bad. Do not keep your passwords on your Android phone.”

For more information about Jim Simon, email him at

If you are interested in a career in cyber-security, NACC offers a short-term certificate program through the Computer Science Department. The program can be completed in as few as two semesters, and those with experience in certain Information Technology (IT) certifications will be able to complete the program more quickly. Fall registration is Wednesday-Thursday, August 20-21, 8:30 am until 5:30 pm.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

TVA is BEST Robotics Sponsor

Northeast Alabama Community College News Release

Jason Harper, Manager of Valley Relations and Ben LeRoy, Lineman in operations, of the Tennessee Valley Authority recently visited Northeast Alabama Community College to present a check in support of the Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics program, which is hosted by the college.

BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, and was originated in 1993 by two Texas Instruments engineers. There are more than fifty hubs located across the United States, operating in four regions.

Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics was established by the college in 2012 to offer opportunities for students in grades 5–12 to become competent and confident in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) principles. Last year, more than 350 students from 10 schools participated.

“TVA is pleased to be involved in this important initiative to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiatives in this region,” stated Jason Harper, of TVA.

The BEST competition runs for six weeks in the fall, and includes three events. On September 20, a kick off day will be held at Northeast Alabama Community College where the students will learn about their challenge, receive the materials they may use with which to build their robot, and attend training sessions intended to prepare them for the challenge. On October 28, teams will gather at the Jackson County Fairgrounds for practice day. This event, co-located with the Career Exploration and Opportunities (CEO) Expo, provides teams with an opportunity to test out their robot on the actual playing field. And on November 1, teams will put their designs to the test by competing against other teams and the clock to perform specific tasks.

Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics serves DeKalb, Jackson and Marshall Counties. The teams already registered for this year’s competition include: DeKalb County Technology Center, Fyffe High School, Boaz Middle School, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Pisgah High School, and Brindlee Mountain Middle School. A number of other schools are expected to register before the September 6 deadline.

The competition encompasses more than robot performance. Teams are judged on oral presentation, educational display, spirit, sportsmanship, interview skills, engineering notebook, and robot performance. The top teams will advance to the regional competition in Auburn.

Northeast Alabama Community College serves as the lead agency for the hub, but it takes a community-wide effort to put on a competition of this magnitude. Other partner agencies include DeKalb County Economic Development Authority, Jackson County Economic Development Authority, Greater Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Impact Learning Center, Community Action Agency of Northeast Alabama, and Alabama Technology Network.

Since all required materials and supplies are provided to participating schools by Northeast Alabama BEST, sponsorships from business, industry and organizations in the community are vastly important. Sponsors for this year include: ABC–North Alabama, Builders Supply Company, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Heil Environmental, Source 4 Manufacturing, Rainsville Chamber of Commerce, Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Fort Payne Improvement Authority, Urethane Supply Company, and Berry & Dunn Office Equipment. TVA has been a major sponsor of the initiative since its inception in 2012.

For more information about BEST Robotics, contact Nicole Carroll at extension 2254 or Additional information may also be found at the Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics website, located at For information about Northeast, see the college’s web page at or download the college’s free App at the Apple App Store or by going to

NACC President Dr. David Campbell accepts the TVA contribution presented by Ben LeRoy,
with Dr. Mike Kennamer, NACC Director of Workforce Development and Skills Training.

Monday, August 4, 2014

South's BEST Dates Announced

Auburn University officials recently announced that South's BEST will take place on December 6-7, 2014. Some marketing presentation slots may be available on Friday, December 5.

So who will represent Northeast Alabama BEST at South's BEST this year? Both Marshall Technical School and Fyffe High School represented us well last year. Who will be there in 2014?