Texas Tech University

Virtual GEAR Competition

The Virtual GEAR competition is run in parallel to the TTU on-site GEAR competition. It is designed for teams that want to participate in an international competition without having to spend money on travel. Robots are designed and tested locally. Teams create and upload videos demonstrating their robots' performance and explaining their engineering design process.

The Robot and the Challenge

GEAR Robotics Challenge

The robot is designed using LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3/NXT kits and autonomously has to perform a variety of tasks within two minutes on a 4' x 4' game field. The game elements consist of inexpensive supermarket/hardware store items and the game mat can easily be created using a white surface and electric tape. Both, instructions for the design of playing field and a list of required game elements will be released several weeks before the competition allowing even rural teams to be prepared at the kickoff day of the competition. There is no registration fee and no requirement to travel, since all communication will be done via video conferencing and social media, thus the name Virtual GEAR. The challenge is designed in such a way that beginners can accomplish several tasks, while advanced teams can practice and improve their game strategy and robot design skills. The competition runs for 8 weeks and the recommended time commitment is 1-2 hours per week, assuming participants already know how to program LEGO robots (approx. 6-10 h of exposure to LEGO robotics).

Eligibility of Teams

Each robotics program may enter up to two teams into the Virtual GEAR competition. Each team must have an adult coach. A coach can oversee several teams. There is no registration fee, but coaches are responsible for the purchase of game elements and the creation (taping/printing) of the game field and online registration is required. They also need to recruit their team members. There is no limitation on the number of learners in a team. It is recommended that teams consist of at least 3 and at most 6 members. All participants must be in primary or secondary school. We will offer two categories of GEAR: "First Timers" is for teams that have never participated in a LEGO robotics competition and that have team members that are all 14 or younger; "Global Competitors" is for teams that have either prior experience in robotics or team members that are 15 years or older. All communication during the competition will be in English. Non-native English speakers are encouraged to participate and improve their English language skills.

Competition Categories

GEAR Robotics Challenge

The following two competition categories are being offered:

First Timers:
None of the team members has ever competed in a LEGO robotics competition (e.g. FLL, WRO, GEAR, etc.) and all team members are 14 years or younger on the day of the competition. This category provides an encouraging and non-threatening environment for learners who are new to robotics. All robot design and competition runs will be performed locally and will be video recorded. Scoring is performed for each team individually.

Global Competitors:
This category is designed for teams with prior LEGO robotics competition experience or team members that are 15 years and older. 

Required Resources and Technology:

1 LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3/NXT robotics kit per team
• 1 computer/laptop with EV3/NXT software installed per team
• Internet access
• Video recording capabilities (anything from cell phone to professional video camera) and ability to upload videos to the Internet, e.g. to Google Drive
• Live video conferencing capability during Game Day, e.g. through Skype, Lync, Facetime.

Sequence of Events/Timeline:Gear Wild Thing

• 31 January: Deadline to register for Virtual GEAR competition online.

• 1 February: Game field and game element information is sent out to registered teams together with more detailed competition format information. Teams from the same school/after-school program may jointly construct a single game field.

• 14 February: Deadline to Upload Team Introduction Video:
Each team creates a video (max. 2 minutes) to introduce themselves (who they are, where they are located, how robotics is implemented at their school/club, why they are participating) and upload the video to Google Drive (login information will be provided). Collaboration with e.g. a digital media class/club is encouraged but all work must be done by students aged 14 or younger. Teams that fail to upload the Team Introduction Video cannot participate in the competition. Videos will be shared with all Virtual GEAR teams to create a sense of community. Here are two sample videos from the 2018 competition: Garsfontein High School, Delta Primary School, both located in South Africa.


• 15 February: Game rules will be sent out to all team coaches who submitted a team introduction video.

• 31 March: Deadline to upload Trial Run Video:
Each team needs to record a match (2 minutes) of their robot and upload it to Google Drive. Videos will be shared with all Virtual GEAR teams. Organizers will provide feedback on scoring and possible game rule violations. Here are two sample videos from the 2018 competition: Garsfontein High School, Delta Primary School, both located in South Africa.


• 30 April: Deadline to upload Engineering Design Video:
Each team needs to create a video in which they explain their engineering design process and game strategy. They need to explain which tasks their robot will attempt to complete and how they designed their robot to do so (max. 5 minutes duration). The video needs to be uploaded to Google Drive and will be share with all Virtual GEAR teams. Here are two sample videos from the 2018 competition: Garsfontein High School, Delta Primary School, both located in South Africa.


• 6-17 May: Game Day
First Timer Teams compete 6-10 May and Global Competitors compete 13-17 May. Coaches pick a day and time during this time frame. Robots compete at the same location where teams practiced. An independent referee will attend the competition either in-person or via live video-conferencing. The performance of the robot will be recorded and uploaded to Google Drive. Scoring will be performed locally and will also be uploaded. Each team plays 2 matches.

• 31 May: Announcement of awards for Virtual GEAR Challenge
The following components count into the Award score:
- Game Day Score (1st and 2nd round)
- Engineering Design Video
- Trial Run Score
- Consistency between game strategy explained in Engineering Design Video and robot performance will be used as a tie-breaker
- The quality of the Team Information Video will be used as a tie-breaker.


Register online here.

Mailing List

We regularly send out information and updates regarding the TTU GEAR tournament using Google Groups. If you are interested in receiving emails regarding the TTU GEAR tournament, please ask to join our Google Group; https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/gear-ttu


Dr. Tanja Karp
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 79409-3102
Phone: 806.742.3533 ext. 251

De'Lila Holder
Whitacre College of Engineering STEM
Texas Tech University
Office of the Dean of Engineering
Lubbock, TX 79409−3103