Following Guyana’s success at the First Global Robotics Challenge staged in Washington, DC, earlier this week, First Lady Sandra Granger welcomed the local team of young innovators as they returned home on Wednesday evening.
The nation looked on as a group of six Guyanese teenagers and three adult mentors, took to the United States their robotic creation to compete – for the first time – in this year’s Global Robotics Challenge.
Guyana quickly rose to the top during the first day of competition, but fell after joining forces with a number of weaker teams in the second day of the international faceoff.
Nevertheless, the group of young innovators finished 10th among a total of 165 countries, thereby marking an outstanding representation of the country.
On that note, the First Lady was among the welcome party at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport on Wednesday evening, and took the opportunity to congratulate the team for their exceptional performance.
“The way our team has performed by coming 10th out of 165 countries, has shown what can be done when we consider that we have not had robotics in this country for even a year,” the First Lady said.
She went on to say that, “Our young people have come together, worked as a team, demonstrated their skills and have also become very good ambassadors for our country.”
With that, the youth activists thanked those who supported the initiative, noting that such efforts at collaboration are necessary for success.
Meanwhile, in light of the accomplishments of the young innovators, Mrs Granger underlined the importance of technology and innovation in Guyana as she continued to emphasise her interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as a medium of growth for the nation’s youth.
The First Lady relayed, “My concern has always been that young people can see all the possibilities and STEM offers them those opportunities; that they can see themselves developing and getting into a profession that they will love. Any child today is absorbed in technology so you have to stimulate that interest and maintain it… and through STEM.”
Moreover, Mrs Granger pledged her commitment to the expansion of robotics while outlining her vision of creating innovative opportunities across Guyana.
“My main focus is to get it to every child and I mean every child in the rural areas, the hinterland, the towns, in our less well-endowed communities and challenged homes, to give them that opportunity to see that they can do it and that has been our experience wherever we go with the Robot kits and so the aim is to get every kid in Guyana into Robotics,” posited the First Lady.
However, revisiting the experience encountered during the competition was the team Manager, Farnaz Khan, who expressed her utter delight in the accomplishments of the Guyanese team, especially given that the challenges were numerous. As a result, the Guyanese delegation was determined to make the nation proud.
“The boys stayed up until about 3 ‘o’ clock in the morning to ensure that all was well and then on the second day, there was a connection problem. Despite the connection problem and about a minute delay, we did well and reached triple digits,” Khan relayed.
She further explained, “The last game on the Monday was a great experience and we saw Guyana on top but Tuesday, that’s when we faced a lot of problems not with our robot but the countries we were paired with.
There wasn’t proper communication and Ivory Coast did not have a proper mechanism. We tried to help them build their robot in two hours but unfortunately we could not finish it and when their robot reached on the field, it shutdown and so Guyana was the only one who helped the country to most of the points so that’s how we dropped from the points table.”
Adding to that, one of the other participants, Christopher Nelson, pinpointed that he now looks forward to bringing his experience, skills and knowledge back home to promote STEM education and development in all communities, since it is his belief too that it must be made available to every child.
“We now have a responsibility to capture some of the youths into robotics. Some Guyanese feel that getting involved in robotics and STEM that you have to be a high flyer but that is not true and so we now have to motivate persons to come out and get involved so that Guyana can have a better future and be a better place,” Nelson conveyed.
Regardless of the challenges faced, this year’s competition marks the first time Guyana was represented at the Global Robotics Challenge. Despite having limited resources when compared to that of other international powerhouses, Guyana fought its way to the top 10, making it an impressive introduction to the international competition.