Some of Canada's brightest students are taking part in a program to build their skills in science, engineering and entrepreneurship this week.

The event is organized by Shad Valley International, a summer program that celebrates excellence in leadership, science and technology, and entrepreneurship.

One of the highlights is a robotics competition that was held Friday and involves building a machine from scratch and racing it against others.

The robots use circuit boards and sensors built by the students to crawl along tracks designed by UNB's Faculty of Engineering. The goal is to make it to the finish line first without getting stuck in a trap.

Bill Wang, 16, is part of a team racing a robot called Legend.

"There's always interesting surprises that come up," he said before the competition.  "I think we'll do well, but we'll see."

Wang is just one of 64 students from high schools across the country taking part in the competition.

They're divided up into 16 teams that will take part in 72 races that eventually determine a winner.

Bill Briggs, a professor of engineering at the University of New Brunswick, helped design the robotics contest.

Briggs said it takes his team about a month to figure out the challenges the participants will face.

"This is my most fun time of the year," he said. "These are the brightest of the brightest. They're very engaged and competitive and cooperative. They really enjoy the competition and it rubs off on us."

Amanda Whitehead is a graduate from the University of New Brunswick who now works for Shad Valley International.

She said the robotics competition is intense.

"We've given them a few hours every day where they have to put the robots together, test all the wires and connections, and write some code," she explained. "They've really had to come together as a team."

Teamwork also happens to be what Wang finds toughest about the competition.

"You can't all be a leader in a group, so right from the beginning we were having some difficulties," he said.  "We basically didn't get anywhere for a while."

The top three teams get bragging rights.

This year, Wang's group came in second place.

"It's not about who wins," he said. "It's about what you got out of it."

The University of New Brunswick has been hosting the national competition for the past 29 years.

Shad Valley International is hosted at 12 Canadian universities each summer. The event was launched June 30 and runs until July 26.