Northwestern has a student run program called Design Competition that I took part in my sophomore and junior years. My sophomore year the competition was very robotics centric, which sets a high learning curve. My team composed of another mechanical engineer who helped me build the robot and circuity and 2 computer science students who worked on programming.
The course that year as I recall consisted of moving through a basic kind of maze while completeing tasks along the way such as picking up a bag of ball bearings, pressing a door bell, and cutting a wire at the finish line.
We designed the robot making use of omni-directional wheels so that we could maneuver the robot in purely horizontal and vertical movements. This way we wouldn't have to worry about keeping track of current rotation and number of other sensory inputs.
Here you can see the wirecutter for cutting the wire at the end:
Here you can see the solenoid we would use to push the button and the electro-magnet we would use to pick up the ball bearings:
And here you can see the drivetrain:
The robot barely got finished the night before the competition, giving the programmers next to no time to put their code into use and test everything. Suffice it to say our contribution to the competition was laughable, yet I now look back at it as a very formative experiance; it was my first time working with PIC microcontrollers, sensors, solenoids, motor control, ball bearings, drivetrains, omni-wheels...