History of BEST Robotics

The competition began in Dallas, Texas in 1993. Two Texas Instruments engineers Ted Mahler and Steve Marum had seen the work Woodie Flowers was doing with his students at MIT, and they wondered why they could not extend this idea to high school students. They began with one small hub, and BEST later expanded. It started with 14 schools and 221 students. Currently, BEST has hubs across the country. Any school may start a team, and there is no cost to participate. There are approximately 9,000 students, 600+ teams, with 28 hubs, and 3 regional's.

Each team is given a kit of parts which they use to construct a robot. This kit includes parts such as wood and PVC, along with the RC components necessary to control the robot. However, not every item on the parts list is supplied by BEST. The final robot must fit in a 2 foot cube at the beginning of each round of competition; once a round has started, the robot can expand to be bigger than this size with retractable arms, etc. The robot must also weigh under 24 pounds. The game task is different each year, but historically the robot has often needed an arm with different grabbing abilities. One year the game centered on team work to try and get students to work together. The winning teams from local competition sites, or hubs, advance to regional championship sites after the local competition has ended.

The hubs rely on local financial support from businesses and universities. Anyone can start a new hub serving a minimum of eight teams. On average, the cost for the first year of running a hub with 24 teams is $28,000.