What does it take to build and operate a competitive robot? Students in robotics competitions have been discovering the answer to that question for decades. There’s a reason that robotics competitions like FIRST and BattleBots were the first STEM competitions to go “mainstream.” Beyond the engineering and programming skills that they foster, robotics competitions encourage teamwork, creativity, problem-solving, and determination. Just as important, though, the competitions are really, undeniably fun.

If you’re interested in engineering, design, tech, or team sports, then you’ll love robotics competitions. Even students as young as 5 and as advanced as graduate school can participate. With most robotics competitions requiring mentors, teachers and parents also have an opportunity to join in on the excitement. After reviewing many robotics competitions for students of all ages, we’ve boiled our recommendations for how to win down to just one overarching tip: practice!

Robots don’t just do what you want them to right out the gate (unless you are a genius robot yourself). To get the robots to do what you want takes many iterations. Try something out, if it doesn’t work, learn from it. Learning from these small failures during your practice runs will make your team better prepared for the real tournaments! Take some time every week to think about a certain task or need for your robot in the challenge you’re participating it. Then practice that from many different angles again and again. Try different strategies to get it to do what you want, and when you get frustrated that its not working, learn from that, and try something new! Practicing the many different strategies you can use to get your robots to do what you want them to is – in our opinion – the single best way to win more robotics competitions.

If you want to expand your participation in robotics competitions check out some of the lesser known programs in our list below:


Popular Robotic Competitions 

FIRST Robotics Competition – The gold standard of robotics competitions, FIRST challenges teams of high school students to design, build, and program robots that will compete with others on the international stage. 

VEX Robotics Competition – Middle and high school teams from around the world compete in this innovative robot engineering challenge. The founding organization also hosts online competitions

Botball – In Botball, middle and high school teams build autonomous bots. Students learn artificial intelligence and advanced coding to prepare their bot for battle. 

BEST Robotics Challenge – Middle and high school student teams design and build task-performing robots that will compete in secret challenges revealed on competition day.


Robotics For All 

Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Tournament – Participants program drones to complete tasks. The tournament is open to robotics enthusiasts of all ages.

Cyber Robotics Coding Competition – Virtual 3D robotics tournament open to grade 6-8

MakeX Spark Online Competition – Online coding and robotics competition for students age 6-13 

MATE Underwater Robotics Competition – Students from kindergarten to grad school will design and build remotely operated vehicles to take on ocean missions 

National Robotics Challenge – Students grade 6 to grad school findrather than buymaterials to build a competitive robot 

World Robot Olympiad – Global themed robotics competition open to students ages 6 – 25

Find other exciting robotics competitions in the ICS database which allows you to search competitions by theme and grade level. With an upgraded account, you can track and manage your participation in the competitions, making sure you don’t miss a minute of the action! Don’t forget to get your own Premium account to help you manage your participation and get special updates and discounts on ICS competitions!