UIL Announces Statewide Robotics Program

BEST and FIRST programs selected as robotics partners to further STEM education in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas--The University Interscholastic League will host the first ever UIL robotics pilot program to begin during the 2015-2016 academic school year.

The UIL Robotics State Championship will have two divisions, UIL Robotics: FIRST Division and UIL Robotics: BEST Division.

Texas is the largest state to implement a Robotics State Championship. The Robotics State Championship expands opportunities to students who may not already be participating in current UIL events.

"There is a clear need to prepare today's students for the jobs of tomorrow, many of which are STEM related," said Dr. Charles Breithaupt, UIL Executive Director. "STEM is a top priority for UIL, and FIRST and BEST have a proven track record of success in preparing students for a future in STEM careers through robotics competition."

All UIL high schools will have access to the UIL robotics pilot program. The UIL Robotics Championships: BEST Division will take place in the late fall of 2016 and the UIL Robotics Championships: FIRST Division will take place at the Austin Convention Center on July 28-30, 2016.

FIRST and BEST pilot programs will operate independently of each other.

"BEST is excited to partner with the UIL to help show students that innovation with technology can also be a lot of fun," said Dr. Kenneth Berry, President of BEST Robotics, Inc. "It is important to stretch kids' minds with activities like robotics in a fun and educational way."

Teams will qualify for the UIL Robotics: BEST Division based on their team performance in both the BEST Award and BEST Game play during the regular BEST season in the fall of 2016. Anyone interested in starting a new BEST team can sign up to receive information about the new UIL Championship at www.bestinc.org/BESTofTexas.

"The entire FIRST community is honored to partner with UIL to help further the extraordinary efforts of making robotics programs accessible to students throughout Texas," said Ray Almgren, Chair of FIRST in Texas and Vice President of Marketing for National Instruments. "UIL's recognition of robotics is a turning point for the widespread accessibility and adoption of student robotics programs across the state and nationwide."

The UIL Robotics: FIRST Division will have two programs, FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge. FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge teams will qualify for the UIL Robotics Championship based upon their team performance during their 2015 - 2016 FIRST competitions. Anyone interested in starting a new FIRST team will find important information including training sessions and a list of competitions to attend at www.firstintexas.org.

"Robotics programs are now commonplace in many school districts throughout our state and the numbers continue to grow," said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. "I commend the University Interscholastic League for recognizing a way to foster a STEM-related academic competition that encourages students and ultimately benefits the future of our state."

"I applaud the UIL's decision to implement a robotics pilot program, which will equip students with hands-on, STEM applied learning and provide them with valuable life-long skills," said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar. "Programs like these inspire and prepare students for future high-demand occupations and are a critical part of ensuring Texas remains economically competitive for generations to come."

For more information regarding the UIL robotics pilot, visit www.uiltexas.org/academics/stem/robotics.

About the University Interscholastic League
The University Interscholastic League was created by The University of Texas at Austin to provide leadership and guidance to public school debate and athletic teachers. Since 1910 the UIL has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world. The UIL continues to operate as part of The University of Texas at Austin, under the auspices of the Vice President for Diversity & Community Engagement. For more information, please visit www.uiltexas.org.

About FIRST in Texas
FIRST in Texas Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation that supports the FIRST K-12 robotics programs, teams, and events across Texas with a focus on increasing accessibility for low-income and underrepresented students. For more information on FIRST, the oldest and largest international robotics programs, please visit www.firstinspires.org. For more information on FIRST in Texas Foundation, please visit www.firstintexas.org.

About BEST Robotics, Inc.

BEST is the oldest continuously running robotics competition in Texas and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that serves over 20,000 students around the country. BEST offers one of the lowest cost robotics programs available to schools, with the support of more than 3,500 volunteers. For more information on BEST, please visit www.bestinc.org.

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