Team of Young Pakistani Students Wins FIRST Global Challenge in US


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FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition, was held during July 2017 in Washington DC.

The event brought together students from around the globe and raise their understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Students as young as 15-18 years participated in FIRST Global to think about the solutions to the biggest of problems that exist in the world today. Some of the issues that the students wanted to tackle included access to clean water, food security, cyber safety etc.

Pakistan’s Alphabots team, which consisted of six students, also toured the United States to take part in the FIRST Global Challenge 2017 (#FGC2017).

Team Alphabots

Alphabots from EMS High School in Islamabad included Hamza Arshad Bhatti, Dawood Ahmad Kiyani, Ahmed Waheed, Muhammad Bin Mohsin, Maryam Ahmad Kiyani and Syed Suleman Ali.

These six brilliant students were chosen to represent Pakistan after winning a national event – Lets Innovate – in Islamabad this March.

The team has previously participated in several local competitions and represented Pakistan at the FIRST Lego League competition in Saint Louis, Missouri, in April 2017.

The Challenge

First GLOBAL challenge focuses on a different pressing issue every year and this time it was “Access to Clean Water”.

It is a major global problem as more than one billion people in the world do not have access to clean water and over half of them are children. The deaths caused by lack of access to clean water are far more than any disease or war.

Here’s what Mohammad Bin Mohsin from the Pakistani team and winner of the ‘Youngest Mentor Award’  had to say about their robot at the competition:

“Our robot was designed to sort and release the balls into two different storages. The base for our blue ball storage was inspired by the traditional ‘Charpai’ in order to prevent the balls from moving out of position.

We created the whole robot in less than two months, which was a great achievement for us. The Global Challenge award was presented to three teams that achieved the most combined match points throughout the duration of the contest.”

Another member of the Pakistani team Ahmad Waheed, had this to add about their experience:

“We were more than just a team, we were a family. We stayed in George Washington University dorms during the competition. That experience on its own was very fruitful.

We not only learnt to be responsible and independent, but our interaction with our dorm mates from other countries was very memorable too. From sharing information about our culture and people, to hearing appreciation about the Pakistan cricket team, it was truly amazing.”

Maryam Kiyani, another member of the team stated that:

“On our pit area table, we did a cultural exhibition that included bangles, a truck, a rickshaw, Balochi topi, khussa, etc, and everyone loved it. At the closing ceremony, we gifted cards and chocolates to all the teams, and took a lot of pictures with them.”

Learning Experience

Talking about the event, Syed Suleman, the youngest of the team members stated,

“I have realised that success cannot be measured in terms of trophies, medals or certificates. Success comes when we realise that this planet is our home and we are global citizens. We needs to exchange ideas, innovate and be responsible for our future.”

The Alphabots team was accompanied by their technical supervisor Umer Farooq. The team was captained by Hamza. Both of them have been working with the Alphabots for almost a year, and says that though they began with minimal knowledge about robotics, they’re proud of how far they have come.

This victory hopes to ignite interest in robotics amongst the youth of Pakistan. It might also be an icebreaker for many students and their parents who have recently become aware of these fields. The students not only learn to find solutions but also learn to work in collaboration with teams against common challenges.

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