WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A robotics competition is working to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Teams spent Saturday competing at Wyoming High School in the Grand Rapids Girls Robotics Competition.

Abby Strait was a captain of a team and said she has learned a lot through the program about designing robots and potential careers.    

“This is a great opportunity, especially for later in life,” Strait said.

Sarah Shapin, another team captain, said the program combines friendly competition with learning new skills.  

“Instead of hating your enemy, you become friends with them and you talk to them and you have a good time. You work with them and you learn off of each other and then you get to take those skills and put it into the engineering field,” Shapin said. 

Four $750 scholarships are given out as an additional bonus for participants. The girl-focused competition began in 2016, according to Wendy Ljungren, who is involved with the event.

“We were looking for a way to encourage girls in S.T.E.M. and we were all involved with FIRST Robotics and we had heard there are teams throughout other places in the country that hosted competitions for girls as a way to get them thinking, ‘Hey I can do this,’” Ljungren said.

Ljungren said having a girls’ event provides encouragement and additional opportunities where girls can be at the controls and leading the team.

“You are in wonderful shape for college with the first robotics program that you will learn the skills that will make your freshman year much easier especially if you’re going into a S.T.E.M. field, which the country really needs the S.T.E.M. fields,” Ljungren said.  

For more information on the program, you can visit the competition website.