GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Promoting science and technology for young leaders and innovators by building robots was the goal of the First Tech Challenge.

Robotics teams from across North Carolina gathered at Hope Middle School in Greenville on Saturday for the regional qualifier. There were 24 teams from across the state gathered at the middle school. Those with event sponsor East Carolina University said First Tech Challenge teaches students life skills like working under pressure and problem-solving.

“These are translational skills, they will help them with whatever career they choose, but most of all, we really want them to have fun. And we want them to learn that when you’re under pressure, you still should be gracious professionals,” ECU Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Dr. Robin Coger.

Those with First Tech Challenge said the program is only getting bigger.

“We started out with First Tech Challenge and the regional process maybe about ten years ago. In doing that, we went from maybe 40 teams, 50 teams a season that wanted to compete on a regional level to now over almost close to 200 to the point where we are running out of locations and we’re expanding the program as we speak,” said FTC State Event Manager Shayla Sharpe.

Coaches and mentors said their students have grown with the program.

“I started doing First Robotics when I was in high school as a student, so coming to college, meeting this team, it’s really important to me, trying to give back and seeing how these kids have grown and seeing how they learning means the world to me,” said Drew Thomas, a coach and mentor.