- Is Robotics an official UIL event?
- Yes. After three years as a pilot program, Robotics is an officially sanctioned UIL contest beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.
- What programs are included?
- The UIL has selected FIRST® and BEST robotics programs to participate in the UIL program. 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 program includes the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC).
- What schools are able to participate?
- Any UIL member high school may participate in robotics in accordance with each program’s particular guidelines.
- Can schools compete in both BEST and FIRST?
- Yes, schools can compete in both program divisions 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 representing a single UIL member high school. High school based teams that also include some middle school students, or composite teams, are also eligible. (Composite teams must be high school based and have a majority of members in grades 9-12.)
- How will the UIL program 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.
- 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 Championships.
- Are schools required to participate Robotics?
- 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.
- How will teams qualify for the UIL Robotics State Championships?
- The UIL Robotics State Championships are invitational events. Qualification is based on eligible teams performance in the regular competition seasons for FIRST and BEST. There are no separate UIL district or regional meets for robotics.
- Which teams (and how many) are eligible to compete in the UIL State Championship?
- All UIL member schools are eligible to participate in UIL Robotics 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 selection criteria as described in the UIL Robotics Handbook and by the BEST and FIRST organizations.
- 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.
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.
Additional information on registration costs, as well as grants and other funding opportunities, are available from the BEST and FIRST organizations.
- Does participation in UIL Robotics 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 robotics, 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.