Texas Tech University

Robotics Programs


Tanja KarpGEAR is an eight week robotics challenge held each spring that is designed to excite young students in grades K-8 about engineering. We believe that all children should have equal access to opportunities, therefore there is no cost to participants other than time and travel and the competition is open to all interested elementary and middle schools and after school clubs. Working in teams of 3-5 students, the challenge requires teams to use LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT or EV3 kits to design, program, troubleshoot, test, and improve their robots at their schools/clubs under the guidance of a teacher/coach. The theme of the competition changes every year and is motivated by real world applications of robotics (automated farming, robotic surgery, unmanned space travel, etc.). Program faculty lead for GEAR is Dr. Tanja Karp.

tanja.karp@ttu.edu       Learn more about GEAR


West Texas BEST is a six-week robotics competition for middle school and high school students that occurs each fall. School participation is free and any school is eligible to participate regardless of socioeconomic status, size, or location. Many of the materials necessary for participation are provided for teams free of charge. Teams have six weeks from the unveiling of the competition theme to develop a robot that will successfully complete the challenge assigned for that year. 

Interested in Participating?

Contact Johannes Starks - Johannes.starks@bestinc.org  Learn more about BEST


Important Dates For The 2023 Season


Registration for the West Texas BEST Hub HAS ALREADY CLOSED!


Kickoff will take place in Lubbock on 9.23.23 at Texas Tech University, Student Union Building - Ballroom at 10:00am

Practice Day:

Practice day will take place in Lubbock on 10.21.23 at Texas Tech University, Livermore Center rooms 101 & 104 with load in at 8:00am and practice starts at 10:00am. 

Game Day:

Game day will take place in Wolfforth on 11.18.23 at Frenship 9th Grade Center with load in at 8:00am and competition starts at 9:00am

West Texas BEST Robotics will be facilitated and ran by Johannes Starks after the 2023 season. Texas Tech University will no longer be the hub for West Texas BEST Robotics. Please reach out to Johannes Starks for all comments, questions, or concerns. Johannes.starks@bestinc.org 



The FIRST® TECH CHALLENGE (FTC) is a mid-level robotics competition for students in grades 7th-12th (ages 12-18). FTC is designed for those who want to compete head-to-head using a sports model. Teams of 10+ students - including coaches, mentors, and volunteers - are required to develop a strategy and construct robots based on sound engineering principles. Teams design, build and program robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams to solve the game task for a given year. The robot kit is reusable from year to year and is programmed using a variety of languages. Awards are given for the competition, as well as for community outreach, design and other real-world accomplishments.

Heather Sherrill
Director, STEM Outreach & Engagement 


Garrett Smith
Robotics Program Assistant

Learn more about FIRST


Air Battles is a drone competion, hosted by Frendship High School. It is an intermediate program with teams made up of 4 students that complete against other area schools. Due to high interest and limited space, students are selected through an application process.


  • VEX U is a version of the VEX Robotics Competition that has been modified for collegiate / university students. Teams build two robots using the VEX EDR robotics platform that work together to solve an engineering challenge presented in the form of a game. Each year's VEX U game is typically similar in structure and rules to its corresponding VEX Robotics Competition game. However, a larger emphasis is placed on programming, sensors, and advanced build techniques such as 3D printing. Also, VEX U teams are allowed more customization and greater flexibility than other grade levels while providing the effective costs and real-world limitations of a restricted development environment.
  • Contact for Vex U - Heather Sherrill- Heather.Sherrill@ttu.edu

Robotics Outreach Contact:

Interested in bringing robotics to your school or organization? To learn more about our programs and how you can get started with robotics, please reach out to Garrett Smith!     

Garrett Smith
STEM Outreach Program Assistant
FIRST Senior Mentor/BEST Robotics Advisor

Program Sponsor:                                         

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