The idea for a BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) competition originated in 1993 when two Texas Instruments (TI) engineers, Ted Mahler and Steve Marum, were serving as guides for Engineering Day at their company site in Sherman. Together with a group of high school students, they watched a video of freshmen building a robot in Woody Flowers' class at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The high school students were so interested that Ted and Steve said, "Why don't we do this?"
With enthusiastic approval from TI management, North Texas BEST was born. The first competition was held in 1993 with 14 schools and 221 students (including one team from San Antonio).
After learning that a San Antonio group had formed a non-profit organization to support a BEST event, North Texas BEST mentored them in providing a BEST competition. Thus, San Antonio BEST, the second BEST competition site (or "hub"), was started in 1994. The two groups - North Texas and San Antonio - decided to meet for Texas BEST, a state playoff at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, TX.
In 1995, more hubs were started as word spread: Collin County BEST (Frisco, TX); West Texas BEST (Texas Tech University in Lubbock); and Chicago BEST. Also, that year, Texas BEST - the "state championship" - became an annual event sponsored by Texas Instruments and Texas A&M University.
In 1996, more new hubs came on-board: Brazos BEST in Bryan, TX, and Dallas BEST. Denton County BEST (Denton, TX), became the eighth hub in 1997. That same year, BEST established itself as a non-profit, 501(c) organization.
Four more hubs joined in 1998: North Colorado BEST (1998 and 1999 only); Oklahoma BEST (Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City); and Northwest Arkansas BEST (University of Arkansas-Fayetteville). In 1999, Kansas BEST (Wichita State University), Space City BEST (Johnson Space Center in Houston), Four Star BEST (now Five Star) in Conroe, TX, and Cal-B BEST (University of California-Berkeley, 1999 and 2000 only) were started. Chicago BEST became Illinois BEST that same year. A single new hub was formed in 2000: Kentucky BEST (Western Kentucky University, since folded).
In 2001 BEST held its first New Hub Workshop at Texas Instruments in Dallas. The following hubs were started from that workshop: Alabama BEST at Auburn University; New Mexico BEST at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces; Cowtown BEST in Ft. Worth, TX); and Capitol BEST in Austin, TX.
Heartland BEST at Northwest Oklahoma State University in Alva was the lone new hub to join the program in 2002. 2003 saw the rise of several new hubs: River Valley BEST at the University of Arkansas - Ft. Smith; Florida BEST, a part of the Broward County School system in Ft. Lauderdale; Georgia BEST at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta; Bearcat BEST at the University of Cincinnati, OH; and Tennessee Valley BEST in Huntsville, AL.
Also in 2003, BEST's second regional championship was born, South's BEST, at Auburn University, Alabama. Thirty-six teams from nine hubs in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, and Illinois competed. Texas BEST featured 60 teams from 17 hubs in five states.
In 2004, three new hubs joined BEST: Philadelphia BEST, based in the Philadelphia City School System; Coastal Bend BEST, based at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; and Azalea City BEST, based at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Also in 2004, Alabama BEST relocated from Auburn University to Huntingdon College in Montgomery.
In 2005, two new hubs joined the program: Bulldog BEST at Mississippi State University in Starkville and Billiken BEST at St. Louis University. A third regional championship was added: Frontier Trails BEST at the University of Arkansas-Ft. Smith.
In 2006, four new hubs joined BEST: Music City BEST at Lipscomb University in Nashville; Connecticut BEST at Central Connecticut State University; Crowley's Ridge BEST at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro; and Northark BEST, which is at Northark College in Harrison, Arkansas. Azalea City BEST in Mobile changed its name to Jubilee BEST and its affiliation with The University of South Alabama.
In 2007, even more new hubs have joined the BEST family: Bison BEST at North Dakota State University in Fargo, Emerald Coast BEST at the University of West Florida in Pensacola; Mid-South BEST at Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, AR; and Rio Grande Valley BEST at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.
In 2009, several new hubs formed: North Alabama BEST at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, AL; Golden Lions BEST at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff; Little Rock BEST at the University of Arkansas Little Rock; Hot Springs BEST at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts; and Galveston BEST at the University of Texas – Medical Branch. Two previous hubs closed: Illinois BEST (Chicago) and Mid-South BEST (West Memphis, AR).
It appears that each year, more and more schools/colleges of engineering or engineering technology along with their counterparts in science and math are starting BEST hubs. They recognize the program as a great recruiting tool. In 2008, one new hub was established, Blazer BEST at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Bearcat BEST, the hub at University of Cincinnati, ended its run. Northwest Arkansas BEST at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville ended, as well.