x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE scoops up green prizes at World Robot Olympiad

Local teams sweep almost all prizes in Green City category at the World Robot Olympiad.

Students sing and dance in the stands at the close of the World Robot Olympiad at Adnec in Abu Dhabi.
Students sing and dance in the stands at the close of the World Robot Olympiad at Adnec in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Local teams swept almost all the prizes in the Green City category at the World Robot Olympiad yesterday.

Mahmoud Elwakil and Abdullah Alkubassi leapt from their seats cheering when their team name appeared in gold letters on monitors.

The pupils from Zayed Al Awwal Secondary School in Al Ain took first place in the "green city: secondary school" category at the contest held at Adnec. Their robot had to complete different missions including putting a solar panel on a roof.

"We didn't know we would win, but we hoped so because we worked very hard for two months," said Mahmoud, of Egypt.

The three-day contest, which attracted 1,500 students from 34 countries, was split into four categories across three age groups: elementary, junior high and secondary school pupils competed in Green City, Football, Regular and Open challenges.

The theme for the eighth annual competition was "Robots for life improvement". In the Open category, another UAE team took the top prize for developing a robotic prosthetic arm and leg, designed for amputees.

"We thought, 'Why not create something that will help people get on their feet?'," said Athul Manojkumar, 16, a pupil from Our Own High School in Dubai who has worked in robotics for three years. "We took it to the next level and did an arm."

Athul's and his teammates, Farhaan Feroz and Richard Francis, spent 300 hours constructing their human-sized robotic parts.

Kerry Bailey, the curriculum consultant for Abu Dhabi Education Council and one of the organisers of the event, said he was impressed by how far UAE competitors had come in the three years since the country first entered the challenge.

"Let's put it this way. In 2009, nationally, we had 31 teams," Mr Bailey said. "In 2010, we had 130. This year, we had 602. I think that means we've been successful."

The robotics programme in schools is aimed at preparing students, particularly Emiratis, for future careers in the engineering, semiconductor and aviation industries.

"But for the kids, first of all, it's about fun," Mr Bailey added.

For Mohammed Hameed, an 18-year-old student from Zayed Al Awwal, playing with robots in class may turn into a lifetime love. "Next year, I will go to college to be an engineer, and I will study technology because this is the future," he said.

jthomas@thenational.ae