Organizers of the first annual Shep Robo Fest say this competition develops American students' interest in subjects like math and science, fields they usually fall behind in on the international stage.
The school's Computer Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering department organized the robotic competition and students as young as kindergarten participated.
Participants built robots from products like Lego pieces, then they programmed the robots to follow commands.
"The fact that you are making something that can think on its own and move around on its own, it blows my mind," says Courtney Crites, a freshman at the university.
Some of the creations were able to extinguish a flame on a candle.
"That could be used in real life," says Matthew Alt, a freshman. "Eventually we could use them to help fight real fires," he says.
There were about 30 participants and organizers hope to expand the program next year