Skip to main content
University of Texas at Austin
University Interscholastic League Logo
University Interscholastic League Logo

STEM Contact Info

STEM Director:
David Trussell

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Department Phone:

Department Fax:

State Champions

Robotics Pilot FAQs


Pilot Overview

What programs are included in the pilot?
The UIL has selected FIRST® and BEST robotics programs to participate in the pilot. Both have a proven track record of success in educational robotics competitions that inspire students to pursue STEM fields.

• BEST Robotics, Inc. (BESTTM) offers a compact fall schedule and a low-cost participation model that provides broad accessibility for UIL member schools interested in launching robotics programs.

FIRST offers multiple programs as well as experience working with activities associations on championship competitions in other states that will be essential in getting a new UIL program off the ground in a relatively short timeframe. The UIL pilot program will include the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC).
What will the pilot consist of?
The 2016 pilot program will include a substantial educational component with informational and instructional workshops to be scheduled in the spring, summer and fall. Details on workshop opportunities will be posted on the Robotics Resources page as they are scheduled. The 2016 pilot program will also include championship events as described in the State Championships section below.
What schools are able to participate in the pilot?
Any UIL member high school may participate in the robotics pilot in accordance with each program’s particular guidelines.
Can teams compete in both BEST and FIRST?
Yes, teams can compete in both pilot programs and both UIL State Championship events..
Who is eligible for participation in the UIL Robotics State Championships?
Participation in the UIL Robotics State Championships is open to teams composed of students from UIL member schools.
How will the UIL pilot affect BEST’s and FIRST’s regular seasons?
The regular seasons will not be affected. The UIL Robotics State Championships will be held at the conclusion of the FIRST & BEST seasons – allowing schools and students to participate in both.
How long will the pilot last?
The UIL pilot system is designed to allow for evaluation and adjustments on a year-to-year basis. The UIL will gather feedback from partner organizations, school leaders, teachers and students to determine next steps and decide if robotics will be incorporated as a permanent UIL sanctioned activity moving forward.
What are the benefits of robotics being a UIL event?
The UIL will make robotics programs accessible to an exponentially larger number of students across Texas. The UIL is the largest inter-school organization of its kind (in the world) with broad access into Texas schools.
Are there limitations on practice time?
Under state law, for each extracurricular activity a school district must limit students to a maximum of eight hours of practice and rehearsal outside the school day per school week, excluding weekends and holidays. (A school week is defined as Monday through the end of the regular school day on Friday.) Public school-based robotics teams are already subject to this rule regardless of whether they participate in the UIL State Championship.
Will schools be required to participate in the robotics pilot?
No. Participation in any UIL activity is optional. Participation in the UIL Robotics State Championships is an addition to the traditional BEST and FIRST competition seasons.
Is Texas the first state to incorporate robotics programming in this way?
Texas is now the fourth state in the country to implement a statewide robotics program through its state activities association. Arizona, Connecticut and Minnesota are the other state activity associations with a statewide robotics program.

State Championships

When and where will the 2016 UIL Robotics State Championships take place?
For the 2016 pilot contests, the FIRST Division championships will occur in conjunction with the Texas Robot Roundup event scheduled for July 28-30, 2016 at the Austin Convention Center. The BEST Division championship is scheduled for December 8-9, 2016, in the DFW area.
How will teams qualify for the UIL Robotics State Championship: FIRST Division?
See the Qualification page for detailed qualification information. Invitations to qualified teams will be sent out in early May 2016.
How will teams qualify for the UIL Robotics State Championship: BEST Division?
Team participation in the traditional BEST season will be used to determine team qualification for the UIL State Championship. Qualification criteria for the UIL championship event will be announced in the summer of 2016.
Which teams (and how many) are eligible to compete in the UIL State Championship?
All UIL member schools are eligible to participate in the UIL robotics pilot and those who qualify may compete in the UIL State Championship events. The number of teams will be determined by the format of each event and the development of criteria as described above.
How much will the UIL State Championship registration cost?
FIRST in Texas and BEST will be working with the UIL to provide funding for the events so that entry fees, if any, will be as low as possible.
Can a team attend the UIL Robotics State Championship: FIRST Division event if they don't go to FIRST World Championships?
Yes. The UIL State Championship is run separately from the FIRST World Championship. As long as teams meet UIL eligibility requirements and qualify for the UIL Robotics State Championship: FIRST Division, they can compete.
Can a team attend the UIL Robotics State Championship: BEST Division event if they don't go to the Texas BEST Robotics Regional Championship?
Yes. The UIL State Championship is run separately from the Texas BEST Robotics Regional Championship. As long as teams meet UIL eligibility requirements and qualify for the UIL Robotics State Championship: BEST Division, they can compete.

Costs & Funding

How much money does it cost to start a robotics team?
BEST Robotics provides robotics kits to BEST teams for free when they register for the program. The robotics kits contain returnable and non-returnable parts and materials.

To start a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, start-up costs are approximately $1,500. To start a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team, start-up costs are approximately $8,500.
What grants or sponsorships are available to teams?
Teams participating in FIRST programs may apply for grant money through FIRST in Texas, US FIRST and a variety of corporations. FIRST in Texas offers robotics team grants from corporations and the Texas Workforce Commission. Currently, BEST Robotics sponsors or grants all team registration fees.
Does participation in the UIL pilot program change the fundraising requirements for robotics teams to cover event costs, equipment and travel?
Teams can fundraise and receive corporate sponsorships, within parameters approved by their school district administration.

Organizing a Team

How many teams can a school have?
BEST allows a single team from each school to participate. However, BEST does not limit the number of students per team.

A school can have any number of FIRST teams, including fielding teams in multiple programs. Within FIRST, FRC and FTC are separate robotics programs under a common FIRST umbrella. These programs have different technology requirements, competition rules, registration requirements, etc. FRC and FTC teams within the same school can share students and mentors, yet they are considered different teams.
How do teachers get involved?
Many resources exist within the BEST and FIRST organizations and communities to educate and support teachers who are considering or would like to start robotics teams within their schools.
If a district/school chooses to participate in the pilot, does a coach or mentor have to be a full-time school district employee?
This will be determined by local school district policy. UIL rules do not require the coach or mentor of a robotics team be an employee of the school although the UIL certainly encourages school districts to utilize their employees as coaches and mentors.

UIL Robotics Pilot

Robotics Overview Page