High school students with an interest in robotics from schools across Qatar have formed Team Qatar, the STEM-vengers, to represent the country in the FIRST Global Challenge, an “Olympics”-style robotics event.
The FIRST Global Challenge invites each country to send a team to compete in a Robotics Olympics, which is based on the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the US National Academy of Engineering. Team Qatar comprises 25 students from 14 different schools. The team is part of Texas A&M University at Qatar’s (Tamuq) STEM Hub Robotics Club, which is currently ranked 19th out of 174 teams from around the world.
The 2020 FIRST Global Challenge — Connecting Communities consists of three months filled with social media and technical challenges, talks by STEM professionals, and technical training sessions — all while connecting the First Global Community around the world. The season began in June and wraps up on September 25.
Team Qatar’s Almayasa al-Obaidli said, “FIRST Global is a yearly robotics competition that promotes STEM education and it’s a great way to represent team Qatar among more than 150 countries. Participating in this competition helped me make friends with other participants from all nations and made me believe that working together and co-operating we can find solutions to the world’s grand challenges. Despite the difficulties that we faced this year by working remotely, as a team, we were able to face the challenges. FIRST Global has inspired me to expand my knowledge and to continue studying for the future.”
The team is mentored by Tamuq’s STEM programme specialist Dr Mohamed Gharib in the university’s STEM Hub, a joint initiative between the university and the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). The STEM Hub aims to promote creative applications of engineering and science toward innovative thinking and original design among Qatar’s youth.
Gharib established the SHRC initiative at Tamuq in 2019 in co-operation with QNRF to use robotics to enhance, supplement and enrich science and math learning experiences for secondary students; to put together a team of talented students from different schools in Qatar whose interests are in engineering in general and robotics in particular; and to prepare the students to participate in international competitions.
Gharib said Team Qatar has shown a strong presence in the FGC since first participating in FGC 2018 when Qatar achieved the bronze medal in a field of 161 nations. SHRC aims to ensure the continuity of the team and transfer the knowledge and experience among the students, Gharib said. In 2019, Gharib won the Outstanding Mentor Award, which is given to mentors who are committed to their students and inspired them to keep going, despite any challenges.
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