KAMPALA— A team of talented teenagers from Young Engineers Uganda are gearing up to jet off to the United States of America on Sunday, April 23, 2023, to proudly represent Uganda at the prestigious Vex World Robotics Championships in Dallas, Texas.
The team, consisting of four girls and three boys, along with their three dedicated instructors, secured Uganda’s fourth position on the African continent during the Pan African Robotics competition 2022 in Dakar, Senegal last year, earning them an invitation to participate in the World Robotic Championship in the United States.
The Vex World Robotics Championships will see participation from over 50 countries and over 2,200 teams from all over the world, making it a truly global event that brings together the brightest young minds in the field of robotics.
Young Engineers Uganda is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education program of the African School of Innovations Science and Technology (ASIST) Ltd. Founded in 2016 by journalist Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Young Engineers Uganda aims to nurture the next generation of Ugandan scientists, technologists, creative thinkers, and problem solvers.
Using a robotics and LEGO curriculum, the program is coordinated in over 60 countries worldwide and is endorsed by the European Commission of the European Union. It aims to enhance and augment Uganda’s curriculum by equipping children with practical implementation skills in STEM and empowering them to overcome any negative bias towards science subjects from a young age.
“The mission of this education program is to nurture the next generation of Uganda scientists, innovators, problem solvers, and creative thinkers – using a LEGO and Robotics after-school curriculum,” said Maureen Rugyendo, CEO of Young Engineers Uganda and head of the delegation.
The Uganda VEX Robotics team 40155A has been invited to the US for the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championship, presented by the Northrop Grumman Foundation in Dallas, Texas, from April 25 to May 4, 2023.
“In addition to competing in this prestigious event, there are several schools and educational institutions in the region that the team may be interested in visiting for collaborations and synergies,” added Rugyendo.
The CEO of Vex Robotics Championship, Mr. Dan Matnz, expressed excitement about the Ugandan team’s participation, stating that they will be competing against the top student-led robotics teams from around the world and celebrating their accomplishments while vying for a crown for Uganda.
“The experience is designed to motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math while building self-confidence, communication, and problem-solving skills,” he further added.
The Ugandan government has launched a science orientation campaign in all its programs, and it is hoped that young talents like these will form a critical mass of the country’s future sophisticated scientists.
Arinaitwe Rugyendo, the Founder of Young Engineers Uganda, highlighted that out of the 18 competitors on their team, 4 are girls, in line with their mission to encourage more young girls to pursue STEM education.
“Team Uganda made the country proud in July 2022 when they won a bronze medal at the Pan African Robotics Competitions (PARC 2022) in Dakar, Senegal,” said Arinaitwe.
The Head of STEM and R&D at Young Engineers, Ms. Allen Nanyono, shared that Uganda has been placed in the VEX IQ category, where they will compete in the competition themed “Slapshot.”
“VEX IQ Competition Slapshot is played on a 6′ x 8′ rectangular field. Two Two robots will compete in the ‘Teamwork Challenge’ as an alliance in 60-second-long teamwork matches, working collaboratively to score points,” she explained.
Ms. Nanyonjo, who is also Team Uganda’s Head Coach, said the objective of the completion is to score as many points as possible with the alliance partner by scoring Discs in Goal Zones, removing Discs and touching Contact Zones at the end of the Match.
“Our students have built a robot that can slap or shoot the discs into the goal zones,” she said.
She adds that; the world faces a serious problem and without explicit and intentional action, we will eventually stagnate global progress and lead to a workforce that is unmotivated and ill-equipped to solve its future problems.
“As the world grows more technologically complex, the challenges become more complex leading to an acute need of problem solvers. That is what we intend to achieve with our children at Vex Robotics Championship 2023,” she added.
Who is who on ‘Team Uganda?’
- Lowena Mwiza Rugyendo (14): Viva College School, Jinja
- Liam Mukisa (12): Mengo Secondary School
- Ciara Nyamate Bwesigye (13): Taibah International School
- Pearl Ayebale (12): Kampala Standard Primary School
- Celline Nyonyozi Bwesigye (11): Taibah International School
- Samuel Kazoora (11): The Hungry Caterpillar International School
- Aleem Mangalji (9): The Forest School Online
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