The first championship between two hubs was in 1994. Teams from North Texas BEST hub (Sherman, TX) and San Antonio BEST (San Antonio, TX) competed against each other at Howard Payne University (Brownwood, TX). This first state-wide “championship” was very well received and, through Ted’s prompting, moved to Texas A&M University in 1995; Ted’s alma mater.
As the number of hubs increased, so did the Texas BEST Regional Championship as it came to be known because hubs were starting up outside of Texas. Texas BEST has been hosted by many differing universities and organizations over the 30 years of BEST Robotics. Here is a run down of the Championship locations, hosts and approximate size (number of hubs/teams hosted).
|# Years||Start Year||End Year||Host Organization||Location (City)||Max Hub Count||Max Team Count|
|1||1994||1994||Howard Payne University||Brownwood||2||12|
|9||1995||2003||Texas A&M University||College Station||17|
|2||2004||2005||Southern Methodist University||Dallas||18|
|2||2006||2007||Texas Tech University||Lubbock||15|
|3||2008||2010||University of North Texas||Denton||17|
|10||2011||2020||University of Texas at Dallas||Garland||20||70|
|2||2021||current||BEST of Texas Robotics||Frisco||10||73|
Universities were eager to use the championship as outreach and get many students onto their campus.
At TAMU, there were additional activities, or TREKs, setup by the university to showcase what research or other interesting activity was taking place there and entice students to consider pusuing higher education with TAMU. This included tours of engineering research facilities, special demonstrations, and other unique activities to interest the students.
After a 9 year stint, the championship moved to Dallas and Southern Methodist University, hosted by the engineering department. SMU just beginning to work on The Infinity Project, an engineering curriculum for secondary schools. Ted had a great interest in the curriculum and was watching it closely….this became an influence on BEST’s new control system a few years later. SMU only hosted the championship for 2 years and another prominent Texas university stepped in.
Texas Tech University, who had started a BEST hub way back in 1995, jumped at the chance to host the Texas BEST Championship. It was a bit of a trek given it’s location in Lubbock, and we remember significant snow during this short stint. Texas Tech hosted for 2 years as well.
Waiting in the wings was the University of North Texas in Denton. UNT engineering scooped up the championship and hosted a great event for 3 years including the return of TREKs. UNT brought back the glitz from the A&M days and a stability that was very much needed. The university hosted the championship for 3 fabulous years before needing to bow out.
The search was on by the championship committee and one of the BEST board members was assistant director of the Science and Engineering Education Center at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). UTD SEEK was eager to take over the Texas BEST Championship but they had no facility (e.g., coliseum) on campus to host such an event. Thus, for the first time, the championship moved from a university campus to an events center. Still hosted by a university, some activities were still held on campus initially but soon after all activities moved to the Curtis Culwell Events Center in Garland due to the distance from campus. After many years at the Curtis Culwell Events Center in Garland, UTD joined forces with the newly formed BEST of Texas organization and the championship was moved to the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco (now the Comerica Center). In 2018, the event was expanded to encompass two major championships in a single event: the Texas BEST Robotics Regional Championship and the new University Interscholastic League (UIL) State Robotics Championship – BEST Robotics Division.
After 10 years of hosting the Texas BEST Championship (the longest tenure of any host), UTD handed over the hosting reigns to BEST of Texas Robotics in 2021 and stayed on as the primary sponsor for the event.