Columbia, SC (WLTX) – Airplane prototypes and custom-designed robots took over Columbia Tuesday.

The engineers behind the creations were teenagers from across the state participating in a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering competition at the University of South Carolina.

PTLW gets students exposed to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“They're doing hands on projects, problem-based learning, these kids are excited and so um you know they need to know a little bit more about what is engineer? What do engineers do and what we try and tell students is that engineering is everywhere,” PLTW’s Krystal DuBose explained.

The students created and raced robots. They also built and designed 3D physical and digital plane prototypes.

It was a friendly competition that’s building their skills and preparing them for jobs.

Per the United States Department of Labor, from 2014-2024 there will be 67,000 new jobs in the architecture and engineering fields.

“We must grow this workforce, so it's courses and curriculums like this that provide the foundation for students at an early age to begin to look at the field of engineering and engineering technology,” B.T. Martin with the South Carolina Department of Education said.

Martin said preparation is key in landing these positions that right here in South Carolina among companies like BMW, General Electric, Volvo and Boeing.

The students are enjoying the fun.

“Without engineers we would not have cars. We will not have trucks. We will not have any way to transport or anything else that could help us,” Dutch Fork eighth grader Darian Sulejmanovic said.

“The building, putting it together,” Dutch Fork eighth grader Beatrice Douangkesone said.

About 80 students from all over the state competed.

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