Robotic team from South Africa wins Gold

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Durban – Team South Africa has broken a record at the FIRST Global robotics challenge in Mexico.

One of the Springbot members and team captain, Mikhaeel Reddy said. “We won the Walt Disney award and received gold for our creativity, imagination and innovation.

“We are still reeling from our win and it goes to show that South African can also work hard and come out on top.”

Mikhaeel and his squad – Barbara Moagi from Hoërskool Uitsig, Tshenollo Mokwana from Olievenhoutbos Secondary and Masana Mashapha from Pretoria High School for Girls – competed against 192 other teams from 186 countries last month.

The 18-year-old head boy from Hoërskool Uitsig, who had participated at the Robotic Olympics before, said South Africa placed 77th last year and were determined to improve their ranking.

Although Mikaheel said the team experienced hiccups along the way, they managed to show good sportsmanship.

“The robot took two months to build. It’s actually harder to build in South Africa because we did not have the required kits and could only test it in Mexico.”

Mikaheel said they worked unsupervised and built a second robot because they feared something would go wrong with the first.

However, they gave the back-up robot to Team Georgia when theirs had not cleared customs. This team finished seventh.

Mikaheel, who wants to study mechanical engineering and branch into astronomical engineering, said their robot’s core function was to pick up energy cubes, solar panels and turn wind turbines.

Although grateful for the experience, he said South Africa must introduce robotics at school.

“We are short-sighted. We don’t see the relevance of robotics, but robotics are the future. The education system needs to change. We are taught to memorise equations, but not to solve problems independently. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are vital subjects we need to focus on.”

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