Team Jamaica Robotics, which comprises high school students from Jamaica, is set to compete in what has been called the “first global Olympics,” the FIRST GLOBAL Challenge 2019 at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai. The tournament runs from October 24 through 27. The team will participate in head-to-head competitions with other teams from around the globe. The 2019 staging is the third FIRST Global Challenge. The event will encompass over 2,000 students from the ages of 14 to 18 from 193 countries.
The Jamaican students for the team come from Alpha Academy, Immaculate Conception High School, Jamaica College, St George’s College, and St Jago High School. The students are accompanied by their coaches as well as a chaperone. Jamaica College old boys serve as coaches for the co-ed team at the robotics laboratory at the College. Team Jamaica competed at the inaugural tournament in Washington DC in 2017 and ranked 45th among more than 150 teams. It also performed in an outstanding manner in 2018 in Mexico City where it finished 15th of over 150 teams and won several awards there as well. The team’s current coaches, Gavin Samuels and Paul Pounall expressed confidence that the 2019 performance of the team will be “equally successful.”
The robotics tournament is based on the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering determined by the National Academies of Engineering in the United States, United Kingdom, and Chana. The 019 staging’s challenge is “Ocean Opportunities,” which will require teams to compete and cooperate to clean pollutants about of the oceans via processors. The FIRST Global Challenge is held yearly as a global robotics challenge designed to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics among young people around the world. The participation of Team Jamaica Robotics is sponsored by the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (USA).
Reflecting on the global competition, UJAA President Lesleyann Samuel, president of the UJAA and an engineer, noted the competition brings numerous benefits, including giving students the opportunity to meet others from different cultures and find ways to cooperate and collaborate to achieve successful outcomes despite their language and other cultural obstacles.