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- Details Coming Soon


Due to continued growth of the TTU GEAR tournament, we offer three tournament locations for Trial Run and Game Day to accommodate a larger number of teams.
Teams are strongly encouraged to choose the location closest to them. Schools must pick a single Trial Run/Game Day location for all their teams (up to 8 teams per school / after school club). In addition, they may enroll up to 2 teams for the Virtual GEAR competition. Participation is free of charge, but registration is required by December 20th. Registration for a tournament site will be closed once the maximum number of teams have enrolled. The highest ranked teams from all locations qualify for playoffs that will be held at the TTU campus.

The competition consists of the following events:

Tournament Events:

wild thing

Kickoff Event: February 8, 2020, Texas Tech University, Biology Lecture Hall, Lubbock, TX

During Kickoff the annually changing challenge will be revealed and teams will receive their game mats, game pieces, and the game rules. All participating students and their teachers are invited to attend the kickoff event. Students are not required to attend the event in order to participate in the competition. We will record the kickoff event and share the video link with all participating teams. Teachers/coaches need to pick up game mats and game pieces at the kickoff event or make alternative arrangements (we do not ship mats and game pieces!)

Trial Run and Game Day:

Location Trial Run Date Game Day Date

All Saints Episcopal School

3222 103rd St, Lubbock

March 7, 2020 April 4, 2020

Carver Center 

1300 E. Wall...Midland, TX 79701

March 28, 2020 April 18, 2020


9th Grade Center, Frenship ISD

March 28, 2020 April 18, 2020

During Trial Run teams practice in a competition-like environment together with other teams. It is highly recommended that teams participate in this event to practice and to ensure that they understand the rules correctly and experience a competition environment similar to game day. However, participation is not required.

During Game Day teams compete for points and awards. The highest ranked teams qualify for playoffs (details will be explained at kickoff event)

Playoffs: (for qualified teams from all game day locations):
April 25, 2020, Texas Tech University, Student Union Building Ballroom, Lubbock, TX

Qualified teams from all game day locations compete against each other.


Registration is open now and will close December 20th! 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