Robotics Comparison by Program for the Rio Grande Valley

The Rio Grande Valley (McAllen, Mission, La Joya, Weslaco, Harlingen, San Benito, Los Fresnos, Mercedes, and Brownsville) has various robotics programs available to them. The three compared are the only ones that have a true competition model that advances: regional, state, and world championships. These are the largest robotics programs in the United States.

Not all Robotics Programs are Created Equally

While there are approximately 10 robotics programs in the Rio Grande Valley, it is important to know that the three main programs are FIRST, BEST, and VEX robotics. These three, national programs, offer various benefits to the students. Some offer substantial support to teams, have a local proven presence of unbiased professionals, financial support and professional development and others just allow for the ordering of parts out of a catalog and are just a simple yearly competition that does not require students to demonstrate any of the soft skills that are increasingly important in today’s society. Some programs teach and require a demonstration of “Gracious Professionalism” and “Coopertition” while others focus on the competitive strategies of just winning.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is not a Given

In our community, it is important to ensure that equity, inclusion, and diversity is required on and off the competition field. Only one program actually tracks this and is also the birthplace of a very unique and inclusive special needs robotics program that is offered by Special Olympics. This was due to the requirement by one of these programs to do community outreach and to develop community changes approaches to problems.

Programs with Local Events

Representation by Local Teams





Local representation by a non-profit that was created to specifically support the Program and has a proven 5-year success.

Has a local representative on its Program state competition committee to ensure diversity and inclusion opportunities for our community.

Has local full-time staff available to train coaches, help with presentations about the Program, help with Program fundraising and sustainability opportunities.

Has a multi-year longitudinal study to support the impact of students and the Program’s impact on equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts.

Encourage students in their middle / high school programs to design, build, and use their own parts for their robot. Reinforces principals of engineering and revision pathways.

The cheapest Program available to participants.

Either directly offers team grants or assists in the coordination of grant funds for the purchase of a robot kit and registration fees for local teams.

Requires students to do community outreach, lower grade level pathway outreach and program marketing as part of its Program.

An inclusive program of students that are involved in more than just building and programming their robot. (marketing, business, promotion students)

Provides local professional development training for educators/coaches on the Program and is partnered with a local college for CE hours.

Provides FREE curriculum for their elementary and middle school programs that helps amplify program impact.

Is a University Interscholastic League (UIL) sanctioned competition for high school students.

Uses a live scoring system and has systems to show online match results and regional / state / national rankings for school district promotion and team analysis.

Requires students in their middle / high school Program to create, update, and present an engineering notebook for various awards. Has separate pathways (competition/awards) for advancement.

Offers over 80 million dollars in scholarships for students that participate in their Program. This offering includes trade/tech schools and universities.

Has an active sanctioned local Alumni Association that continues to work with students and encourages them to mentor and volunteer to support their Programs.

Restricts students to use the kit of parts or materials provided to build and compete with their robot.

We had a great time working with students with special needs this past week in our Arduino Camp. #STEMed #Coding #Arduino ...

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Help support us while you are shopping on Amazon. No cost to you! Look us up as a proud nonprofit when you shop. #PrimeDay ...

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A special thanks to Commissioner Julian Alvarez of the Tx Workforce Commission for his continued support. #RGV Teams have received more than 300k in grant funds in the past five years! 🤖❤️🤖 ...

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Great reminder of what we do in FIRST RGV. #FLL #FTC #FRC ...

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Great partnerships are being built everyday! Thanks Commissioner for your continued support of the #RGV ...

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Working together is key to being FIRST! ...

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Great picture showing our #RGV teams united despite school district boundaries. Thank you all for being such gracious professionals and representing the RGV with passion and grace! - Jason Arms ...

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RGV Alumni helping out at the #TexasCup. Thanks Kevin and Angel ...

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Mission Veterans HS at the #TexasCup ...

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Sharyland Pioneer HS at the #TexasCup ...

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Helping organize the Power Ball Contest entries #Alamodome ...

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Great seeing Mission Collegiate at the Alamodome ...

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