(Alexandria, VA) FIRST Global (www.first.global) is launching the world’s first international robot Olympics for high school students this July in Washington, D.C., with nearly 160 nations in attendance, including teams from almost every nation in Asia. With nations from all 6 populated continents planning to send one team each to represent their home country at this first-of-a-kind global event, participating teams will include attendees from every corner of the world, ranging from peaceful and violence plagued regions of Africa, to the industrialized powerhouses of Europe and Asia, to rural parts of Latin and South America alike.
In an effort to inspire the youth of the world to pursue science and technology leadership and innovation, FIRST Global continues working hard to ensure that every child has the chance to obtain necessary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills. By empowering the bright young minds of tomorrow through STEM, countries all over the world, particularly in Asia, could experience accelerated economic growth, and obtain secure and peaceful livelihoods for their nations. This will require the collective efforts of individuals, corporations, governments, and nonprofits willing to invest in STEM education and infrastructure.
Because they share FIRST Global’s vision for creating a truly global and prosperous community through science and robotics, nations like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are among the countries that will be participating in the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge.
Selected from a dozen high school teams from the major cities of Pakistan who participated in a nation-wide robotics competition, Team Pakistan hopes to make their country proud and considers the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge an opportunity to show the world that their nation harbors brilliant minds that will someday bring about positive changes in the region. They understand that through STEM, they can contribute greatly to their nation’s efforts to diversify their economy and push their technological infrastructure to better compete with the other economies in the region.
Like many others before them, Team Pakistan doesn’t necessarily see winning as holding a trophy and waving their flag above everyone else, because they view the opportunity to meet people from all over the world so they can share their ideas, culture, and points of view with them as the greatest reward. As one team member suggests “it’s not just about winning – I hope we win – but it’s about learning as we progress in this journey”.
Team Pakistan’s Profile Video
Coming from rural areas of the country where electricity is accessible to less than five percent of the population, Team Nepal has faced significant technological challenges over the years. Like many other countries in the region, the Nepalese often partake in agricultural activities rather than pursuing scientific development due to the lack of infrastructure and investment from both the public and private sectors.
When FIRST Global organizers in a local Nepali school were tasked with finding students who were interested in robotics, they were skeptical of the outcome. After reaching out to students in the area, they were thrilled to see that over 60 of them showed up to be instructed in robotics and STEM!
As one of the team’s organizers tells us in Nepal’s official profile video, the objective of this program is to help students think critically and see things in different ways, so they can innovate new and creative solutions to the problems that directly affect their country. He states that they not only expect this competition to inspire these remarkable young minds to pursue careers in STEM, but hopes that it will inspire “their parents and their community to think [about how] their kids, especially their daughters” are capable of achieving great things.
Team Nepal’s Profile Video
FIRST Global always strives to achieve diversity in its teams, and prides itself in doing so. As a matter of fact, as a result of these efforts, FIRST Global is hosting a number of all-female or female-majority teams in this year’s event, as over 60 percent of the teams attending the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge were either founded, organized, or are being led by women. FIRST Global participants from all over the world want to continue working hard so that all students, regardless of sex, have equal opportunities to pursue careers in a field that has been historically dominated by men.
Proud to represent their country internationally, the group of teenagers waving the flag for Team Bangladesh see this competition as an opportunity to show the world that they have the knowledge and skills to become strong and able leaders of the global STEM community.
Studying robotics has opened new possibilities for them by bringing excitement to their educational curricula. As one of the team members discusses in their profile video, “programming really helped enhance into analytical thinking and fields like that because before I wasn’t good at anything. Before I started programming I was just an average boy. But after I started programming I was really led into the direction of STEM and I could solve my problems in all fields and became a good student.”
This year’s competition will not only provide an opportunity for students around the world to learn and discover more about the exciting world of robotics, but will also teach them the value of teamwork and the importance of gaining the trust of their peers, regardless of their place of origin, creed, religion, or race. For Team Bangladesh, “the most interesting and exciting part about FIRST Global is the prospect of meeting people from all around the world and their ideas”.
Although Asia has seen sustained economic growth in recent years – largely due to its plethora of natural resources – the region as a whole can realize a rise in its standards of living, life span, and overall economic grow through the pursuit and development of technology and innovation. By stressing the importance of developing STEM skills and convincing governments and non-government organizations to focus their efforts on investing in their youth, future generations can help Asia become one of the most technologically advanced regions in the world.
In our continued efforts to incite an interest in STEM and innovation, we’d like to invite you to join all 160-plus teams on this journey as they come together from 16 to 18 July at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
Asian Teams Attending the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge
Continental Team (Asia)