It’s a bird, no it’s a plane

Devin Misner dons his airplane mascot attire during a robotics demonstration when he was a freshman.

COLBY QUALLS – Hoof Prints Editor

Marching bands are blaring music. Students are wailing like a freight train. Pom poms of different colors form a rainbow within the stands. The time is running out and fast. Beads of sweat drip off the brows of the exhausted coaches’ faces. Referees are on the field straining to watch in case a call needs to be made. The buzzer gives a deafening bellow. The crowd is hushed. Within a matter of minutes, the winning robot will be announced.

Each year BEST Robotics hosts a challenge for competing schools. They must be able to construct a functioning machine out of limited supplies that can complete a specific task within a time limit. Whether it’s hanging laundry, moving supplies on the surface of Mars or assembling planes, students are encouraged to work together in order to produce the best product.

Devin Misner is one of the hundreds of students that attend the competition in Fort Smith, Arkansas. His contribution deals less with his constructive ability, but more with his enthusiasm for the team. For the past three to four years, Devin has been the unofficial team mascot. He has portrayed airplanes and even aliens.

“Everyone just stared,” Devin said. “People were always looking at me and smiling or laughing.”

Being the mascot is a task that Devin takes pride in. It’s a way for him to strike conversation with others, and he knows that he brightens the days of those around him. When he was the airplane, he would mock fly around the general area of meeting for teams with thin colorful wings. He would even lead other teams’ mascots dancing together for camp-like songs. He, knights, bears and bananas would dance in a circle while spinning and shaking.

Devin is also one of the members of the team that is decked out in buttons. Schools are encouraged to create these buttons to promote their team and robotics in general. While Devin is mingling with students from other teams, they usually pin a memorable button onto his costume. By the end of the day, it seems as if he is wearing a Lady Gagaesque outfit made entirely of these pins.

“It’s just cool being able to do this,” he said. “As the alien, I had a mask and everything.”

This year, students are gearing up for Total Recall, the theme of this year’s event. The subject of this year’s mascot has yet to be announced by the team.

Regardless of the costume though, the face behind the mask will remain the same.

“When I first joined robotics, I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “But school and life wouldn’t be near as fun without it.”