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Full STEM ahead

FTC Jamaica, NCB Foundation present robotics competition

Sunday, February 09, 2020

STUDENTS from 30 high schools across the island will convene in the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium at Jamaica College at the end of the month for the second staging of the FIRSTŪ Tech Challenge Jamaica National Robotics Championship to determine which school has built the best robot, and which two teams will travel to the US to compete in international tournaments.

The schools have teams of 6-10 members who are designing, building and testing robots to prepare for the championship. The entries come from a mix of traditional and non-traditional schools, including several all-girls' institutions. They are vying for the coveted Inspire Award, which qualifies participation in the FIRSTŪ Tech Challenge World Championships to be held in Houston, Texas, from April 15-18, 2020.

FIRSTŪ Tech Challenge (FTC) is an international organisation dedicated to stimulating youth interaction with STEM concepts through robotics. The challenge is usually held in the US, and Jamaica College is the only school from Jamaica to have steadily participated since 2009.

In 2018 the New York Chapter of the Jamaica College Old Boys' Association partnered with the Jamaica College Foundation to secure the rights to host a local event.

Gavin Samuels, affiliate partner representative at FTC Jamaica is confident “that this initiative will increase interest and participation in STEM-based programmes and careers,” she said.

NCB Foundation, a strong supporter of education and robotics for several years, has partnered with FTC on the project, granting half of the competing teams with robotics kits valued at US$1,000.

NCB Foundation's CEO Nadeen Matthews Blair said: “We are happy to be supporting this initiative on a multi-year level as the competition not only develops the technical skills but the soft skills, such as problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. This makes the programme much more compelling because it is creating well-rounded, young Jamaicans who are equipped for the workforce of the future.”

“FTC Jamaica and NCB Foundation are confident that transforming how Jamaica's youth interact with STEM subjects can unlock their potential and the country's future in a bold new way,” the partners added.