WORCESTER, Mass. - This weekend, more than 1,000 students from around the world are in Worcester to put their robotics skills to the test. 75 teams and their families packed the Harrington Auditorium at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Saturday for the start of the inaugural WPI Annual First Lego League Event - also known as "The Waffle."

What You Need To Know

  • WPI is hosting the inaugural WPI First Lego League event this weekend

  • The competition drew hundreds of students ages 9 to 16 from around the world

  • Students build Lego robots designed to navigate missions

  • Students we spoke with were excited to compete and make new friends

Teams from as far away as Belgium and Brazil will compete, building Lego robots designed to navigate missions. The challenges test their research, problem-solving, coding and engineering skills.

WPI President Dr. Grace Wang is excited to have so many bright minds on campus for the weekend.

“To create this kind of enthusiasm among the middle schoolers and elementary schoolers and also the kids coming from 33 states across the country and 15 other countries, just think about the impact of the event and also the impact on these kids individually, it’s going to be very profound,” Wang said.

While everyone hopes to come away with the first-place trophy, teams also enjoying the experience of traveling somewhere new. A teacher accompanying Team Belgium said it’s the first time they’ve all traveled outside Europe.

“This university is a lot bigger than in Belgium, in Belgium everything is a lot smaller and I think everyone would like to go here for school,” one of his students said.

But some teams didn’t have to travel very far at all.

Aanya Shankar, Anoushka Nikumbh and Priya Iyer are from Grafton, Shrewsbury and Ashland. They said they’re excited to be representing Massachusetts on the world stage.

“We’re super excited to get to know other teams and compete against people from all over the world,” Shankar said.

“We’ve been preparing for months now, and we’ve already made a ton of new friends,” Nikumbh said.

“It’s a really great experience, because it’s really good for girls to learn how to build and code and engineer,” Iyer said.

And as the teams compete for the top prize, everyone involved in the Lego League open hopes students leave Worcester with plenty of good memories. The competition’s emcee Manisha Rajaghatta reminded the crowd to take in the experience.

“Most of your events were local, so to be able to interact with people literally around the world, cherish this moment, make the most of this weekend,” Rajaghatta said. “It’ll be a weekend you’ll literally never forget.”

Teams will be in down until Sunday afternoon, when judges will determine a first-place winner.