SAN FRANCISCO—Hundreds of high school students from across the world gathered to take part in the regional First Robotics Competition, which was held in San Francisco over the weekend at St. Ignatius College Preparatory.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology was founded in 1992. It is the world’s most prestigious organization of its kind. Winners from the event, which continues on Sunday, will go to the world final in Houston in April 2017.

The competition begins with students being placed into three teams, and competing against one another with a robot they have designed and built. The teams were informed how the competition would work in January, when they were given 6 weeks to engineer the robots.

The theme for 2017 was SteamWorks, which entails science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Human drivers control their robots remotely to zoom around the field. In order for the team to gain points their robots must collect yellow Wiffle balls, which represents fuel. They must shoot them into a target; a the steam boiler, as well as gears that they delivered to towers, the airship, placed there by human pilots.

Each match runs for only 2.5 minutes. During the last 30 seconds, the pilots must lower ropes to pull the robots up onto the aircraft in order to score an extra 50 points.