This paper discusses the role and significance of robot competitions in engineering education with focus on experiences with the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest, a mature international event that has attracted teams from more than 115 universities around the world. We consider development of effective learning environments for robot design projects, including first-year undergraduate engineering design courses and upper-level robot research and development teams. With regard to the latter, we describe our instructional strategies of choosing team projects, imparting competences and teamwork skills, reporting results, and assessing progress. We also consider achievement of ABET outcomes through competition-based design projects, and means to maximize student self-efficacy beliefs through mastery experiences in robotics. Finally we present methods for effective assessment and evaluation.

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