Despite inadequate govt support, Team Nigeria shines in global robotics competition

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A team of seven students, who represented Nigeria in the maiden edition of the FIRST Global Robotics Olympiad (GRO) in Washington DC, U.S. have been commended for their impressive performance.

The team came third out of 41 African countries that participated in the competition and ranked 25th out of 162 countries. They also got two other awards.

Faysal Jarmakani, sponsor of the Nigeria team, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Lagos that some international organisations had indicated interest to partner with the organisers of the event as a result of the feat.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia defines Robot competition as “an event where robots have to accomplish a task. Usually they have to beat other robots in order to become the best one’’.

NAN reports that FIRST is the acronym of ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’ and the goal of the competition is to expose students to collaborate on techniques to solve global problems.

Mr. Jarmakani said: “The seven Nigerian students that participated in the Robotics Olympiad performed very well; they were ranked as number three in Africa and 25 among 162 countries that took part in the competition.

“The team also got two other awards including the Sofia Kovalevskaya Gold Medal for International Journey.

“The other award, the Al-Khwarizmi Award, Silver Medal for Outstanding Supporter, was given to Omar and Faysal Jarmakani for their support and dedication in achieving the journey of Team Nigeria.

“As a result, some organisations have shown interest to partner with Dean Kamen, the organisers of the event, by providing robotics tools.’’

According to Mr. Jarmakani, the organisations also indicated interest to support Team Nigeria, especially as we were not given adequate support by the government.

“The organisation, Sr. Technology Policy Specialist of the World Bank, expressed interest in working with the mentors and sponsors of Team Nigeria to provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Grants.

“Also, a leading New York-based Academy reaching out for collaboration in providing “tools of change” through technological innovation have requested for collaboration with a U.S-sponsored, Nigeria-based organisation,’’ he said.

In her response, the mentor of Team Nigeria, Remi Willoughby, commended the students for performing well during the competition.

Mrs. Willoughby called on the federal government to give necessary support to the team as it did not receive enough support for the outing.

“For example, we were expected to see the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S at the opening of the event to cheer the team, but he was not there.

“Rather, it was the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria that was there to welcome the team and cheer them during the event; it was an encouragement to the team.

“Our government should be more involved in robotics as it will help to promote science and technology, which is the footstool for the country’s development,’’ she said.

Mr. Willoughby urged students of 15 to 18 years, who are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, to participate in the competition.


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