Texas Tech University

GEAR - Get Excited About Robotics



GEAR provides an exciting hands-on LEGO robotics challenge to elementary and middle school students at no participation fee, with the goal of increasing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines while offering mentoring opportunities to engineering undergraduate students at Texas Tech University in an effort to improve their education and increase retention rates.

GEAR itself (found at www.gearrobotics.org) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) volunteer organization that was created to foster interest among today's youth in engineering, science, and technology. It provides the game rules for the annual competition with instructions on how to build game tables and where to purchase game elements. GEAR also maintains a Question and Answer section on its website. GEAR tournaments are held at various locations listed on the GEAR website.

The TTU GEAR tournament is held annually in during the spring semester. It is open to students in grades K-8 from all schools / after school clubs that are sponsored by a teacher or coach. Sign-up of individual students is not possible. The competition challenge changes annually, but a set of general rules remains the same every year.

The tournament offers a large degree of flexibility in how and to what extent schools / after school clubs want to participate in the competition. In the past, some schools offered LEGO robotics as an after-school activity, while others incorporated the activity into their math, science, technology, or gifted and talented GT classes. Teams meet between once a week after school to five days a week in class. Each participating team must have a LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 or NXT robotics kit and access to a computer/laptop in order to program their robot.

The Challenge and the Robot

During the 6 - 8 week long GEAR challenge elementary and middle student teams design, construct, and program robots using the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 kits or the older LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT kits, which contain structural elements, wheels, axles, gears, motors, sensors, and a simple microprocessor with a rechargeable battery. Programming of the robot is accomplished through an intuitive graphical user interface, the EV3 Software, patterned after the widely-used LabVIEW laboratory instrumentation package from National Instruments. Communication between the robot's microprocessor and the computer is done through Bluetooth or a computer's USB port.
The annually changing challenge is designed around a fictive story that motivates the need for autonomous robots (i.e. a robot operating in Antarctica, constructing a moon post, or performing surgery). To solve the challenge, students learn engineering skills through a teaming exercise in designing, building, programming, testing, and troubleshooting their wheeled LEGO robots. These robots then compete autonomously in two-minute matches on a 4-by-8-foot game field.


 2021 GEAR Tournament Season- Is Now Open 


About the Season: To ensure the safety of our precious participants, we will be offering a remote robotics competition platform. We will not be meeting in person, but teams will still be able to showcase their robots and knowledge and compete for awards. This year, teams will not sign up for participation in the Lubbock, Frenship, or Midland leagues. All participating teams will compete in one comprehensive regional league.

Team Registration Has Changed- School/Organization registration is limited to 4 teams.

New Competition Component- This year along with robot performance, each team will submit an Engineering Design Process video. Not only does this allow team members to reflect on how the EDP was utilized throughout the design and build of the robot, but to also learn many new skill sets.

Tournament Events:

Remote Events- (Please Note: All dates and times are subject to change.)

Teams will conduct all gameplay at their campus or location of their choice.

  • Kickoff- We will have a Zoom Kickoff event on February 10, 2021 at 4:00pm. We hope you can join us. Kickoff will be recorded and a link will be sent out afterward.
  • Trial Run- Each team will video 1 match and send it in to be scored and receive helpful feedback. Due Date- March 12, 2021 by 5:00pm
  • Game Day- Game Day will take place over the span of the week of April 19th-23rd. Teams will meet with referees over Zoom or another digital platform to conduct 2 game matches that last 2 minutes each. Teams will be able to sign up for a time during the week that best meets their schedule.
  • Engineering Design Process Video- All videos will need to be completed and submitted by 5:00pm on April 16, 2021.
  • GEAR Final Playoffs- This year we will not be hosting GEAR Playoffs.
  • Awards Ceremony- Join us for the GEAR awards ceremonies on April 28, 2021. The ceremonies will be recorded for those that are unable to attend.
    · Elementary Division will be held at 3:30pm via ZOOM
    · Middle School Division will be held at 4:15pm via Zoom


Registration is open now and will close December 18th at 5:00pm 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

Click on the following links to find out more:

Virtual GEAR

▶ Lego® Robotics Field Trips


▶ Teacher resources (including how to start a LEGO robotics club)

Media Coverage



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 Administrator
Texas Tech University
Office of the Dean of Engineering
Lubbock, TX 79409−3103

Texas Tech GEAR Sponsors

sme Whitacre College of Engineering