BEST History and Milestones

BEST Robotics has had a very rich history. The beauty of the program is that we are constantly working to improve the experience for students and adapting to industry and technology changes along the way. While we have grown in our reach (hubs, schools, students), we also grow in the varying number of skills that we offer our students.

Below you will find a record of important milestones for the organization and the program over the last 30 years. It tells a unique story about how BEST was formed as a grass-roots organization/program and has become the “best” opportunity for everyone involved.

BEST Robotics Historical Milestones

Year Competition Technology Events & Training Organization
1993   Futaba RC Control System   Texas Instruments sponsors 1st hub
(North Texas BEST, Sherman, TX)
1994     First Regional Championship (2 hubs)
@ Howard Payne University
1995     Texas BEST Championship Begins
(Texas A&M University – 9 years)
Steering Team is formed.


$1840 hub dues is established.

1996 Game Field Drawings are Introduced (3 pgs).


First Game Story.

1997 Industry Theme introduced.


Engineering Notebooks, Oral Presentations.

    BEST officially incorporates in Texas
as BEST Robotics, Inc. (BRI)


Staff – Executive Director is hired.

1998       BRI receives 501c3 exemption from IRS, establishing it as a not-for-profit organization.
1999       BRI receives Texas state tax exemption (retroactive to 1997)
2000   Replaced Dot Matrix Printers in Kit with off-the-shelf drive components.    
2001 Game Scoring Software (XLS, Visual Basic).
Electronic Tie-breaker introduced.


Piloted electronic scoring (sensors on the field).
Piloted real-time scoring (as it happens).

  First New Hub Workshop training is established. Corporate Bylaws Adopted (Steering Team Model)
2002 BEST Award Rubrics (Scoresheets) Introduced   Program opens to Middle Schools BRI Provides Hub Insurance
2003 Real-time scoring (manual data entry on field computers)   South’s BEST Championship begins (Auburn, AL) SMU “The Infinity Project” partnership (2 years)


Bylaws Revised (Adopted Board of Directors model)

2004 Robot performance added to BEST Award


Notebooks become required for all teams

Wildcard Match added

Piloted Speedy33 DSP (TIP/BEST)
·   First robot controllers & software
·   VAB Block-based programming


Pocket Robot Introduced
·   Control system diagnostic tool 

Texas BEST moves to SMU
(2 yrs)
GEAR Program Pilot
·   4 BEST hubs


BEST Hub MOA Required, Dues $1840

2005     Frontier Trails Regional Begins
(UA-Ft. Smith)
Hub & Regional Operations Policy Introduced


Coaches Survival Guide Published

Igus Sponsorship

First Collection of Team Demographics

2006 BEST Award Scoresheets Open to Teams TI/BEST Infinity Speedy33 DSP (optional) Texas BEST moves to Texas Tech
(2 yrs)
2007   BRAIN Prototype (Internal Custom Design)   BEST MOA/Dues becomes License Agreement + Fee (still $1840)


Advisory Council Formed

Hub Operations Manual (later defunct)

Bylaws Revision
·   # Dir from 11 to 13
·   # Districts 6 to 7

SolidWorks Sponsorship

2008   BRAIN Controller Introduction


Programming introduction (C)

BRAIN simulator (not widespread)

Texas BEST moves to UNT
(3 yrs)
License Fee increased to $2000


BRI Board hires Admin Asst

2009 Electronic Field Control
–   custom BRAIN + field s/w
First Robot Sensors (IR sensor)
–   game specific (1 yr only)
  MathWorks relationship begins


Hubs required to be 501c3

HEXBug fundraising program begins

2010 Game Scoring S/W change to LabView


Electronic Field Control (NI USB6501)

First Game Animation.

VEX Control System Introduction


Programming Software Options
·   easyC, RobotC, MathWorks

First National Championship 
(2010, 2011)
Advisory Council Dissolved (Jan)


2010 1st Yr hubs now pay license fee

VEX Sponsorship (RK Retrofit)

VEX Ret Kit Fulfillment Contract

WolfRam Research Sponsorship

Inspirtech Sponsorship

Intellitek (later became Solidwize) Sponsorship

CMU Robotics Academy Sponsorship

MathWorks Partnership Begins

Online team registration (robotevents)

Texas Workforce Grant (1st BRI grant)

Alabama Workforce Grant

Friends of BEST in AL established

2011 BRI Mobile Scoreboard (Real-time Scores)
·   web app
·   iphone/android app


Piloted Mobile Device Score Entry (3 hubs)
·   iphone/tablet entry by Refs

Piloted Live Web Scoring System (3 hubs)

  Texas BEST moves to UTD


Northern Plains Regional (pilot)

HSMWorks in-kind Sponsorship (later becomes AutoDesk)
2012   VEX Refurbishment Program begins


Added rotary potentiometer to kit (first analog sensor)

Northern Plains Regional begins Bylaws – Board member terms (expire alternating years)


BRI Dashboard + Google Apps

2013 Simulink Design Award added Simulink 3D Environment introduced (1 yr)  bESTology begins Bylaws update – board/officer selection, various voting clarifications


Staff – Director of Operations hired

Standardized BRI Calendar

2014 Scoring Software change to web server Kit random parts rotation begins


Small motor replacement

VEXnet USB keys replacement

  BRI mini-grant program started (hubs receive grant $ from BRI)
2015 First BEST Game designed entirely by former BEST students


Detailed Scoring Rubrics introduced

Software & Simulation added to Engineering Notebook (plus unique award)
New Scoring Manager Software Introduced (.NET) – configurable through models

BEST Forums introduced/released

Drive System (belt & pulley) changes BEST Simulink Summer Program begins Staff – Development Officer
Staff – Hub Development Officer
Contract – Grant Writer
Staff – Half-time Exec. Director


AutoDesk in-kind sponsorship

2016   Allow 2 Team Custom Parts
(can be 3D printed)
1st BEST in Texas UIL Championship BEST of Texas established


Staff – Full-time Exec. Director

2017 BEST Real-Time Leaderboard Simulink 3D playground (trial)


Added shaft couplers

Denver BEST Championship begins


Northern Plains Championship ends (final year)

Bylaws – HC voting eliminated, districts/reps eliminated, board size (5-21)


Staff – Development, Marketing

2018 BEST National Rankings   BEST is officially UIL sanctioned competition in Texas


Frontier Trails Championship ends (final year)

$2500 License Fee for New Hubs
2019 New Q&A System


Scoring Manager includes BEST Award judging support.

BEST National Registry introduced

Common Leaderboard/Results Site

Virtual National Champion (via Leaderboard)

Added Wheel hubs,
BEST IR sensor kit (student assembled)

First Autonomous Programming.

  Staff – Director of Education
2020 Field Kits (Classroom Competition)


New Skills Challenges (6)
Critical Design Review introduced
BESTMania skills challenge begins
BEST Minecraft challenge begins

Online Scoring Manager
BEST National Registry – Team Workflow
GameBoard introduced (for hubs)
BEST ticket system introduced

Team Ticker Symbols introduced

Virtual Field/Robot (Online Competition)
    – via Mathworks Robotics Playground


First virtual autonomous programming challenge.

COVID Pivots
2 new competition formats:
·   BEST Classroom
·   BEST Online (Virtual field/robot)


Program length extended to 8-9wks due to COVID.

New Skills Challenges

BEST National Online Challenge Hub offered

Industry Development Committee Established
2021 BEST National Skills Challenges formed
– Simulink Award
– Minecraft
– Autonomous Programming
  COVID Pivots
8-week competition length.

BEST Alumni Network officially opens

BESTography campaigns begin

BEST Photos sharing site opens

Spring Autonomous Programming Challenge Texas Unified UIL Championship begins BEST 30th Anniversary!
2023   Spring Virtual Challenges BESTedu site opens  
2024   Projected Control System Change    

More Organizational History

1993Ted and Steve start an excellent adventure [1 hub, 14 teams]
1995Hub Council [5 hubs]
Oct 1997BEST Robotics, Inc. officially incorporates in the state of Texas [8 hubs]
Apr 1998BRI approved for 501c3 exemption by IRS 
Apr 1999BRI approved for state tax exemption under 501c3 (retroactive to Oct 1997)
Nov 2001Corporate bylaws officially adopted  [18 hubs]
–          Steering Team model
Nov 2002The Caperton Group performs assessment of the organization
Jan 2003BRI bylaws revision is adopted, sent to HC for review/vote  [23 hubs]
–          Board of directors model
Mar 2003BRI bylaws changes adopted after comments/changes from HC.
“BEST Robotics” trademark application is filed with US Patent & Trademark Office Interim board officers appointed.
May 2003Policies & Procedures committee established.
Jan 2004First annual meeting of the board; officer elections
Jan 2005Bylaws amended – hub council approvals by electronic vote.
Mar 2007Bylaws revision [33 hubs]
– Increase # Directors from 11 to 13
– Increase # Districts from 6 to 7 

Hub MOU becomes license agreements, fee $1840
2008License fee increased to $2000
2009Hubs required to be 501c3
20101st Yr hubs now pay license fee.
Numerous partnerships formed.
2012Bylaws – Board member terms (expire alternating years)
2013Bylaws update – board/officer selection, various voting clarifications  
Staff – Director of Operations hired
2014BRI mini-grant program started (hubs receive grant $ from BRI)
2015Staff – Development Officer
Staff – Hub Development Officer
Contract – Grant Writer
Staff – Half-time Exec. Director  
2016BEST of Texas established  
Staff – Full-time Exec. Director is hired
2017Bylaws revision
                – Removed Hub Council votes
                – Removed District Reps
                – Changed board membership to 5-21
Staff – Development, Marketing
2018$2500 License Fee for New Hubs
2019Staff – Director of Education and Advancement
2020COVID-19 Pandemic! The organization answered the call!
2022BEST 30th Anniversary Celebration

Leadership History

Leadership History [Board]

Steve Marum, Chairman, 2001 – 2004

Janne Ackerman, President, 2005 – 2008

John Martini, President, 2009 –2010

Garry Ackerman, President, 2011

Eric Heiselt, President, 2012 – 2013

Kenneth Berry,  President, 2014-2015

Todd Atkins, President, 2016-2018

Jennifer Holm, President, 2019

Mike Bright, President, 2020 – 2021

Paul Lutes, President, 2022 – current

Theme: Overlay by Kaira