Young science innovators in Namibia

A team of young scientists is scheduled to participate in the First Global Challenge 2019 taking place on the 21st- 28 October in Dubai. This year’s challenge is themed “Ocean Opportunities”.

The aspiring young scientists from Delta High School in Windhoek are Dennis de Abreu, Giovanni Gariseb, Azor Hijarunguru, Eunike Tshunga Mutota, and Nolan Ndokosho. These talented students have been selected to represent Namibia at the upcoming competition.

The FIRST Global Challenge is an annual international robotics challenge. The competition was created for the youth to excite them about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The competition brings these future STEM leaders together to engage in a collaborative competition.

FIRST Global’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders. By engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs, these young people will be inspired to innovate. The competition develops well-rounded life skills such as self-confidence, communication, teamwork, and leadership.

Namibia has taken part in the FIRST Global Challenge previously and performed well by placing 52 out of 163 countries in 2017, and 65 out of 186 countries in 2018.
FIRST Global supplied the participants with a Robot Kit containing all the materials required to assemble the robot. However, no precise instructions were given about the assembly, that is the challenge.

Although FIRST Global has funded part of the fees for the Dubai trip, the Namibian team is still short by N$27,400. The Team Nam Robot has been visiting different institutions to raise funds and find sponsors. Unfortunately, they have still not raised enough funds and the trip is in jeopardy. They need your help.
The learners behind the robot

Eunike, who aspires to be a biomedical engineer after high school, was given the difficult task of team leader.

“I enjoyed being a team leader. It taught me a lot about communication and helped me build my self-confidence. But it was difficult to be the female leader of an all-boy team as well as getting the entire team together to finish the robot. It was tough at times, being the only female on the team. I could not find anyone to relate to. But over time, it has become easier.”

Dennis aspires to study Mechatronics or Aeronautical engineering. He is “the brainchild of the project” according to the rest of his teammates. He has had the most experience in “fixing” things and mechanics and was primarily in charge of the mechanics and motoring of the robot.

“I used to fix toys for a big toy store which unfortunately closed down. I am naturally good at fixing things. My biggest challenge in this process was learning how to work with a team because I’m used to working by myself. I also learned a lot about programming.”

Giovanni, a mathematics and physics ‘specialist’ on the team, hopes to study astrology upon completing high school. He is in charge of programming for the robot.

Nolan, who aspires to be a civil engineer or architect after high school, was also the mechanic and driver alongside Dennis.

The final team member Azor also aspires to become a biomedical engineer on completion of high school. He is the PR support for the team.

“I learned how to compromise and how to listen to others, even when you think you are right,” he said.

The team members are all looking forward to the opportunity to represent Namibia in Dubai. After the competition, they hope to continue working on robotics. They look forward to motivating other Namibian youth by visiting schools and giving talks.

They further added that they would like to develop their projects and find other ways to use their talents to benefit Namibia.

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