Hundreds of custom-made robots built by the finest young minds in the state are set to compete in the 2016 RoboCup Junior finals at the University of Melbourne on Tuesday, August 16.

RoboCup Junior brings together hundreds of primary and secondary students from around Victoria in a quest to build the best robot that can dance to music, play football or save another in a mock rescue.

Dr Denny Oetomo, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Melbourne School of Engineering, said the competition is a great way to engage young minds in the field.

“We like to consider this a robotic challenge of Olympic proportions,” he said.

“It’s all about allowing students to be creative and imaginative while also using their strong engineering and mechatronics skills.

“Victorian students are really stepping up to the challenge too – entrant numbers are increasing every year.”

This year, more than 600 students from 44 schools will compete in the state finals at the University’s Wilson Hall (for dance, rescue) and Grand Buffet Hall (soccer), starting 9am on Tuesday, August 16.

The robots all operate autonomously, without any human intervention. This is the culmination of months of designing, building and programming in the classroom.

Students not only learn how to build robots from scratch, but also need to work together as a team and both identify and utilise each team member’s specific skills and strengths.

The 2016 state finals will have 220 teams competing in 11 different divisions, including Primary, Secondary and Open Dance; Riley Rover Rescue and Advanced Rescue; and Open Soccer, Lightweight Soccer and Simple Simon Soccer leagues.

The Open League Soccer is considered a highlight of the tournament each year.

All state finalists will get to compete in the Nationals, which will be held in Sydney on the weekend of September 17-18.