The FIRST Global Challenge is a major international robotics event that took place in Washington DC in last month. The competition brings together students between the ages of 15 to 18 years to increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Teams from about 160 countries travelled to Washington for the event, a team of young and bright individuals from Pakistan also travelled to take part in the inaugural event. Team Alphabot from Pakistan consisted of three 15-year-old boys: Hamza Arshad Bhatti, Muhammad bin Mohsin, Ahmed Waheed, Dawood Ahmad Kiyani (16), Syed Suleman Ali (14) and their spokesperson, Maryam Kiyani (17).
Team Alphabot was selected to represent Pakistan in the FIRST Global Challenge after winning a national-level competition arranged by Lets Innovate, in Islamabad. These students are from EMS High School in Islamabad. They also previously had the honor to represent Pakistan at the FIRST Lego League competition in Saint Louis, Missouri, in April, 2017. The team has been mentored by Islamabad-based STEM educators, RoboMinors, for nearly a year and has done brilliantly in other local competitions as well.
With more than one billion people in the world do not have access to clean water and over half of them are children. More deaths are caused by lack of access to drinkable water than in the wars being raged around the world.
The theme of FGC 2017 was Access to Clean Water, and according to Hamza the team captain
“FGC2017 promoted global unity through this competition. Alliances of three countries were made for each game. Teams had to pre-plan, strategise and move their way to success together. The game field was designed like a river flowing between two banks, from where balls were being released. Blue balls represented clean water while orange balls represented contaminant particles. The task was to purify the river by removing the orange balls and depositing them in a repository on the bridge over the river.”
According to him, their robot was designed to sort and release the balls into two different storages. The base for their blue ball storage was inspired by the traditional ‘Charpai’ in order to prevent the balls from moving out of position. He said
“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.”
The FIRST Global Challenge is to be held in a different nation’s capital each year and with a brand new mission. Mexico will host the event in 2018.