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Nigeria Is Part of World’s First Global Robot Olympics

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Fancy looking up and a robot says hi to you in your neighbourhood. Fun isn’t it? It will be more exciting when the green white green flag is hoisted high at the forthcoming First Global Robot Challenges where Nigeria is set to participate with 149 other nations. Robotics!

When we talk of future technologies, robotics naturally comes up. Already these man made machines are used in various advanced countries for a wide variety of applications; especially in manufacturing. But robots are going beyond the assembly line. Robots are here for fun and Nigeria is involved.

The robot revolution is expanding into consumer and service industries. Artificial Intelligence (AI), drones, driverless cars, etc. constitute the emerging reality. AI is indeed the most exciting field in robotics already applied in our day to day activities such as social media and personalization in online shopping.

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.
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“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,” said FIRST Global Founder Dean Kamen.

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.”

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.”

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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 of the University of Lagos Soga Sofola, also a national coordinator of the First Global Olympics, the students have been spending time together since January, 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.

Concluding, Mrs. 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.

By Kehinde Olesin

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