14 Aug Jamaican High Schoolers Travel to Mexico to Compete in 2018 Robotics “Olympics”
A team composed of Jamaican students from four island high schools will compete in the FIRST Global Challenge, an event described as a “robotics Olympics,” to be held in Mexico City. The students from Calabar, Immaculate, Jamaica College, and Kingston College will join with teams from more than 100 countries from around the world on August 13, 2018, for the competition.
Team Jamaica Robotics is sponsored by the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations, Inc., an organization based in the United States. The UJAA represents 53 member alumni associations in the US and organizes, coordinates, manages, and interfaces with FIRST Global. Jamaica’s Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information is also involved with the project and has provided significant resources to help the team with its travel and housing needs.
Team Jamaica Robotics is coached by the Jamaica College Old Boys and trains at the college’s robotics lab. In 2017, Team Jamaica placed 43rd among 160 FIRST Global teams in its inaugural appearance. Gavin Samuels, coach of the co-ed team, expressed confidence that the team will perform even better in the 2018 event.
The FIRST Global Challenge is an international robotics competition that is held every year with a goal to inspire young people around the world with a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
In 2018, FIRST Global invited one team from each nation to participate in a competition that builds bridges with high school students from different backgrounds, languages, and cultures. Bringing these future STEM leaders together in a collaborative competition is designed to emphasize the importance and applicability of STEM education. The competition seeks to inspire students to learn skills necessary to make new discoveries that past generation would consider “miracles.”
UJAA President Lesleyann Samuel, an engineer, remarked on the 2017 competition, saying that besides not knowing each other, the students faced language and cultural challenges, so in order to win, they had to find ways to cooperate for the greater good via real-world technology applications. “This experience can be life-changing,” she said.