A special reception was held on Thursday October 24th for the participating teams in the ‘2019 FIRST Global Robotics Challenge', a global event in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence which brings together talented young people with a passion for science, technology, and engineering, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.
The reception, organised by the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), was a chance for the participating teams and their mentors to relate their experiences and inspirational stories that reflect their passion for science.
Being held for the first time in the Arab world after previous editions in the US and Mexico, the third edition of FIRST Global Robotics Challenge brought together more than 1,500 students aged 14 to 18 from 191 countries around the world from October 24th to 27th at the Festival Arena in Dubai to collaborate, create and compete for a better future.
Khalfan Juma Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, focused on the importance of the championship in encouraging youth to innovate and contribute to developing solutions for a better future. "Robotics is emerging as a major field in which the world's largest economies are seeking to raise their competitiveness. The UAE's interest in this field stems from the economic and scientific opportunities linked to the future of robots in all aspects of life. We have several initiatives launched in relation to this field," he said.
Abdulaziz Al Jaziri, Deputy CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, said, "It is indeed gratifying to see young people from all over the world coming together to create a better future for humanity using advanced technologies, especially in critical fields like the environment. Our focus on innovation is aligned with the directives of the UAE and its National Innovation Strategy."
The Senior Director of Government Affairs at Qualcomm, Elizabeth Migwalla, expressed her happiness at joining the third edition of the global event held in Dubai, praising the efforts being made in the UAE to establish a national culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship through partnerships between the public, private and media sectors.
Also speaking at the reception was Founding Member, of FIRST Global and CEO of the XPrize Foundation, Anousheh Ansari, who introduced the stories of each participant on stage. She described the event as a platform that inspires excellence and creativity among youth.
"FIRST Global is developing waves of impact – building skills in young people to ensure an improved quality of life for all and generating increased respect and understanding among all peoples," she said. "When a young person enters any field, they want to believe they will be successful and one of the best ways to reinforce that belief is to let them see other people who are like them achieve success. We are sure that there are lots of children in the UAE who want to follow in the footsteps of Hazza Al Mansoori, who this month completed a landmark space mission to the International Space Station," she added.
Ansari also said that over 37% of the students participating in FIRST Global are girls, and several teams are entirely comprised of young women.
The Afghan Dreamers, one of those all-girl teams, were denied visas to attend the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge in Washington DC. The team had also faced other obstacles, forcing some of them to withdraw from the challenge. However, the team ended up winning a silver medal for Courageous Achievement in the first edition of the championship, which took place in Washington DC in 2017.
Team Albania also took part in sharing their journey, participating in the event. Team member Dea Rrozhani explained how FIRST Global had been a turning point in her life. "From the moment I joined, I understood that I was part of something bigger than just a robotics competition. Last year in Mexico City, I found it fascinating how we met amazing young people from around the world and we bonded in the blink of an eye. During the Challenge we were paired with and competed against other FIRST Global students. We learned a lot from teams whose robots performed better than ours and celebrated with our partners when we won," she said.
Another team, called Team Honduras, saw mentor Alan Ostrow, who is also a teacher at Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, share his story as the team mentor at the inaugural edition of the championship held in 2017. Ostrow praised his team’s ability to innovate and create despite the dire conditions in Camasca, Honduras and limited education opportunities.