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 Derek Johnston - derek.a.johnston@ttu.edu  Learn more about BEST


Important Dates For The 2022 Season


Registration for the West Texas BEST Hub closes on August 28th by midnight.


Kickoff will take place in Lubbock on September 10th 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Lubbock High School, 2004 19th St.

Practice Day:

Practice day will take place in Lubbock on October 15th 08:00 AM to 04:00 PM at Lubbock High School, 2004 19th St.

Game Day:

Game day will take place in Lubbock on November 5th 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM at Lubbock High School, 2004 19th St.



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
STEM Outreach and Engagement Program Manager


Garrett Smith
FIRST Senior Mentor

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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