Nigeria will be joining 149 other nations for the First Global Robot competition scheduled for July 16 to 18 in Washington DC United States of America.
In order to inspire a passion for science and technology leadership and innovation among the world’s more than two billion youths, philanthropic inventor, Dean Kamen, staged the competition for which the 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.
Mr Kamen expressed his wish toward the competition when he 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.”
Mr Remi Willoughby who is the National coordinator of the programme in Nigeria said that the country needs to address the evident deficit in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in our educational system. She stated that research has shown that children would rather take courses in arts and commercial subjects than in science and tech.
According to Willoughby, “government needs to find a way to encourage more students to take these courses in the secondary and tertiary institutions.”
“We have gathered some of the best students in robotics to represent Nigeria in Washington,” she said.
“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”.
He also stressed that Nigeria needs to find its place on the global map of technology in developing countries.
Jarmakani believes the competition will dictate the future of technology advancement which all have witnessed. According to him, 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 were chosen from different schools in Lagos to compete are said to be presently based in a tech studio. Many of them are said to have represented Nigeria in similar competitions in the past.
Emeritus Professor of Physiology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Soga Sofola, who is also a national coordinator of the First Global Olympics, said 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,” the Professor said.
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.