PEMBROKE, N.C. (WBTW) — More than 30 teams of students from across North Carolina traveled to UNC Pembroke for a Boeing-sponsored robotics competition.

Teams aimed to build a robot capable of scoring more baskets than competitors and hanging from a set of monkey bars.

“It’s pretty surreal watching it in action because you spend weeks and weeks building it and testing it,” competitor Ben Gilley said. “A lot of the testing is actually figuring out what doesn’t work compared to what does.”

Gilley is part of the RobCoBots, the robotics team based out of Robeson County Early College High School. Team members said the competition tests their engineering and programming abilities. They must also learn new skills along the way.

“A lot of what they learn is outside of building the robot — the whole business side of this,” John Allen, coach of the RobCoBots, said. “They are in charge of the marketing and the fundraising. It is literally a student-led organization.”

Marie Hopper, president of FIRST North Carolina, the organization behind the competition, said the skills can help prepare competitors for a career in science.

“The door is wide open for these students,” Hopper said. “They can do anything they want. There are three to four jobs waiting for every single student in the arena today.”

She said one of the most important lessons the program teaches is teamwork.

“This program is about robots, but it’s about much more than robots,” she said. “It’s about developing our next generation of leaders.”