Members of the all-girl team representing India at the FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai, competed on Saturday October 26th, with Shakti, an innovative robot, capable of collecting macro and micro pollutants from the ocean simultaneously.
The Indian team have been lugging their robot, Shakti (the Sanskrit word for power), around in a suitcase all morning for practice at the Festival Arena, frantically adding tweaks to improve the consistency and reliability of the prototype.
The Indian team was made up of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17, and it was their first-ever overseas competition. Driven by their motto, ‘we are coding the future, and it’s female,’ Geared-Up Girls have not just been developing their robotics capabilities to make a difference, but also conducting multiple outreach programmes in India.
Geared-Up Girls’ Radhika Sekhsaria, 16, explained that Shakti is different from the other teams’ robots, because it has a universal collection and delivery mechanism that can simultaneously pick up macro- and micro-pollutants, thus saving time.
“Shakti is more reliable, consistent and versatile than the robots that we’ve practiced against, so I believe we stand a very good chance of winning,” adds her teammate Lavanya Iyer, 15.
They started a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team, working with underprivileged girls in the interior of Central India, and have raised funds to donate an FLL kit to these girls. FLL is an initiative by not-for-profit organization FIRST Global, that engages younger students in real-world engineering, through challenging them to build LEGO-based robots to complete tasks.
Furthermore, they have also conducted STEM workshops for children in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum in Mumbai, and uploaded various tutorials on Playfield construction, and Engineering Notebook documentation and strategy, with the wider FIRST Global Challenge community through social media.
Meenal Majumder, Mentor of Geared-Up Girls and a banker by profession, said, “the girls were actually part of a larger mixed-gender robotics team earlier, but were never given the chance to take on any of the technical roles. They were made to believe that they should only handle the journaling, fundraising or presentation-related tasks, and not do any of the actual robot construction or programming.”
The FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai has invited the participants to design, construct and programme a robot, to collect macro- and micro-pollutants in the ocean. The robot must be able to deposit the collected pollutants to any of the three levels of the processing barge, or into the reduction processing hub located on the side-lines of the competition area to gain points.