GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — East Carolina University welcomed more than 1,300 high school students in STEM on Saturday for the North Carolina State FIRST Robotics Competition.

“We have 40 of the top high school robotics teams from across the state coming together for the state championship. These teams had about seven weeks to build, from scratch from the ground up, a robot that can work autonomously as well as be driven to play a game we call, ‘charged up,'” said FIRST Robotics President, Marie Hopper.

Claire Fendrick is a robotics competitor on an all-girl, rookie team, and she wants people to know, robotics is for everyone.

“It’s the future, we’re really making way for what the world will look like,” said Fendrick. “It really, FIRST in particular, builds skills beyond the mechanical side, we learn amazing communication skills and public speaking skills. We really are just encouraging every girl everywhere that you can do robotics, it’s not just for boys!”

Like Fendrick, Saline Kulas is also a robotics competitor. She said robotics goes beyond technology.

“This has been very helpful, it teaches you so many things, we have multiple sub-groups like design engineering and programming and also marketing as well,” Kulas said.

This isn’t the first time ECU has hosted the state championship.

“It’s a huge weekend for us, it’s so important for East Carolina to get some visibility from all these students from across the whole state, having the state championship here has been a huge opportunity and a huge excitement for all of us here in the ECU community,” said ECU College of Science and Technology Dean, Dr. Harry Ploehn.

The winning 14 teams from this championship will advance to the National FIRST Robotics Competition held in Houston in three weeks.