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Nigeria battles 149 others at world’s first global robot Olympics


PHOTO: Meetup

Nigeria is set to participate at the First Global Robot challenges with 149 other nations, in a competition is scheduled for July 16 to 18th in Washington, D.C. United States of America (U.S.A.)

The competition was founded by philanthropic inventor, Dean Kamen, to inspire a passion for science and technology leadership and innovation among the world’s more than two billion youths. First Global provides the framework for an Olympics-style robotics event that drives home the importance of obtaining the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills needed by future leaders to overcome the greatest challenges facing our world – today and tomorrow.

Kamen said: “By engaging the students of the world in a collaborative competition to help solve the world’s most pressing problems, FIRST Global inspires students to learn the skills they will need to make the discoveries their parents and grandparents would consider miracles, fantasies, or just plain science fiction.”

Commenting on the event, the National coordinator of the programme in Nigeria, Mrs. Remi Willoughby, said: “We need to fully address the evident deficit in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in our educational system. Research has shown that children will rather take courses in arts and commercial subjects than these ones. Unfortunately this is not helping us. The government needs to find a way to encourage more students to take these courses in the secondary and tertiary institutions.”

Speaking further, Willoughby said: “We have gathered some of the best students in robotics to represent Nigeria in Washington. These students were picked based on their interest and performances in past competitions in Nigeria and internationally. We look forward to an exciting outing.”

The Managing Director, Aramex Nigeria, and co-sponsor of the First Global project in Nigeria, Faisal Jarmakani, described the opportunity as “timely”.
According to him, “Nigeria needs to find its place on the global map of technology in developing countries. Without any doubt this competition will dictate the future of technology advancement and we are seeing it happen in our very own eyes.”

He hinted that the decision to co-sponsor, with his brother Omar Jarmakani, is based on the need to encourage the youth to embrace technology and robotics. “This will further ignite their passion and bolster their skills – emboldening them to become mentors, advocates and professionals in the area of STEM in Nigeria.”

The students who are presently based in a tech studio were picked from different schools in Lagos. Many of them have represented Nigeria in similar competitions in the past.

According to Emeritus Professor of Physiology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Soga Sofola, also a national coordinator of the First Global Olympics, the students have been spending time together since January. They have been trying to master the rudiments of Robots design through tutorials in maths, physics and engineering including programming especially using Java, carried out by competent instructors. They have also started building their robots since the arrival of the components, a couple of weeks ago.

Willoughby said plans are in place to present the students and the entire First Global team to the Ministry of Science and Technology at both the state and federal level.

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