All female team prepare for global robotic competition

Five young ladies have been selected to represent Seychelles in the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge which will take place in Mexico City from August 15-18.

Sanjeetha Pillay from Independent School, Amy Joubert of Belonie secondary school, Steffie-Anne Monthy of International school, Trishia Labiche of Praslin Vijay International school together with Louta Bastienne of Beau Vallon secondary school are the fortunate candidates who will be heading to Mexico.

It will be the second time around that Seychelles will be represented in this Olympic-styled international competition, with our first participation being last year in Washinton D.C. The group of students from Beau Vallon school who took part in the 2017 challenge ranked 105 out of 163 countries and outperformed countries such as Japan, Canada and USA.

Each year a different grand challenge takes centre stage in an effort to foster understanding and cooperation among the youth of the world as they use their abilities to solve the world’s problems.

The theme for 2018’s challenge is ‘Energy Impact’,

Beryl Payet from the Department of Information Communication and Technology (DICT) and representative of the SIDS Youth Aims Hub (SYAH) has been designated as the team’s mentor and will accompany the students to Mexico.

“The girls were selected from the five top schools who participated in the SYAH robot building and programming competition which was held in April,” Ms Payet explained.

It was the chief executive of the National Institute for Science, Technology and Information (Nisti), Xavier Estico, who presented the robotic kit and manuals to Ms Payet.

This was during a brief ceremony where the students were introduced to the Nisti team that will be coordinating and supervising Team Seychelles during their two-month preparations.

Similarly to the previous Team Seychelles, this one will have to also have to assemble their robot, learn about its functions and how to operate it. The girls were treated to various video presentations and were even able to operate the robot designed by last year’s team.

“We want this 2018 team to exceed the performance of the previous one and, starting today, they have a long journey ahead of them,” CEO Estico said.

“Given that females have historically been the underdogs — especially in the field of science, technology and engineering — they are more likely to put more effort into proving themselves. This is what we are hoping they do; smash all expectations,” he said.

But for this to happen, Nisti has to raise up more than R500,000 which will cover the totality of the expenses related to Seychelles’ participation in the tournament.

“We will need the support from various businesses, individuals and other stakeholders in order for this to happen.”

Mr Estico said that he is currently calling on everyone to contribute and collaborate to further initiatives linked to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and research and development.

“Nisti has been set up because the government felt there was a need to push these elements but for us to actually achieve this we not only need more resources but a collaborative perspective from all stakeholders especially if we want to promote Blue economy and sustainable tourism and so forth.”

“How do we want to do this without taking into account innovation and science?” he queried.

Mr Estico concluded by stating that the legislative, executive and judiciary bodies should also work in close collaboration.

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