For the past several years, Condé Systems has found ways to get involved in its community. Recently, the company sponsored a local robotics program, BEST Robotics, in which teams competed to build robots that can perform “bizarrely impossible” tasks, according to David Gross, president.
Dating back about 10 years, eight of which Condé has participated as a sponsor, the competition formed when local schools in the Mobile, Alabama area adopted BEST Robotics. Basically, a box of random items is dropped off at participating schools and it is up to the student team to put the robot together. According to Gross, though, there’s so much more than just building a robot out of “stuff” when it comes to this competition.
Students must also build an entire marketing campaign around their robot, designing everything from T-shirts to marketing brochures to a booth to present their concept and robot. That’s where sponsors such as Condé come in. “Students come to Condé and they design T-shirts using sublimation,” says Gross. Implementing the sublimation process, students also make other imprintable items they need for the competition using the sublimation process.
“We push sublimation into the schools from a math and science point of view, talking about the graphic design to printing the items,” Gross elaborates, which is just one reason why the company is involved in the program. Gross adds that he’s always been interested in sharing his knowledge of math and science with school-age children.
This year’s competition was themed Fire, Search and Rescue. According to Gross, this meant that robots had to perform fire-style tasks such as recusing a person from a burning building. The day of competition took place on October 28. The local schools, including both middle and high school students, showed off their robots, with the top five making it to a national competition. While Condé generally sponsors anywhere from three to four teams, this year they only sponsored one, which came in at a respectable sixth place.
But for Gross, the success isn’t in winning. “This is a really big deal to us,” he emphasizes. “We put a lot of effort into it. We donate everything.” He notes that Vapor Apparel donated the blank T-shirts for sublimation in addition to the blank promotional products Condé donated.
It’s also about fostering creativity across the board beyond the math and science behind building the robots. “The goal of the competition is no matter what you enjoy doing, there is a place for you in the robotics competition,” Gross says. “Sublimation is what we do, and we try to take it to everyone we know.”