* QF partner guides students for FIRST Tech Challenge world championships

A science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) expert from Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), a Qatar Foundation partner university, mentored middle and high school students for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) world championships held recently in Houston, Texas, US.
These students were winners of the 2022 FTC Freight Frenzy Qatar Championship, hosted by Tamuq and Qatar National Library, under the support of the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
FTC is a robotics program for students in grades 7 through 12 in which teams design, build, code and operate advanced robots to play a themed floor game. This is the first time that Qatar was represented at the international level of this competition, which included participants from more than 40 countries.
In 2020, Tamuq signed an agreement with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) to host an annual contest in Qatar, and Tamuq’s STEM and robotics expert Dr Mohamed Gharib was named FIRST Program Delivery Partner in Qatar.
Training sessions for both teachers and students were developed and delivered before the competition by Gharib at Tamuq in its STEM Hub, a joint initiative teaching space sponsored by QNRF. The teacher training was designed to prepare new FTC mentors in Qatar to help students develop science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills and practice engineering principles while realising the value of hard work, innovation and working as a team.
Gharib said: “Being selected by FIRST as a Program Delivery Partner reflects the rapid progress and impact of Tamuq STEM and outreach team in the field of STEM education in Qatar. After the great success in developing the advanced robotics programs in Qatar, establishing the STEM Hub Robotics Club and leading Qatar teams in FIRST Global Challenge for the past few years, establishing the FIRST Tech Challenge in Qatar was essential in our team’s plan to spread the science of robotics in Qatar schools.”
The 2022 theme for both the national and international competition was “Freight Frenzy,” in which teams explored the future of transportation. From the shipment of packages in rural and urban areas, to disaster relief delivery and high-tech air transit, teams reimagined faster, more reliable, inclusive and sustainable transportation innovations that better connect and grow communities and economies around the world.
Gharib said: "I am also incredibly proud of our students who did exceptionally well at the world championships. We had the opportunity to meet many talented students, volunteers, and mentors and see some really interesting projects. I am positive that the experience provided a great learning and knowledge sharing platform for everyone.”
Mohamed Bakri, a student at Tariq Bin Ziyad Secondary School and captain of Team Qatar, said: “It has been an inspirational journey: from participating and winning here, to representing Qatar at the world championships. Apart from the technical knowledge in engineering and robotics, we gained from our mentors at Texas A&M at Qatar, we also learned about the value of teamwork, time management and innovation, while also having a lot of fun.”
Majida Timimi, director of STEAM and Practical Applications Programs at the Michael E DeBakey School at Qatar, said: “The FTC experience has provided DeBakey students with invaluable experience and understanding of robotics, engineering, teamwork, technology and innovation. This challenge would not have been possible without the leadership of Dr Gharib and his team at the STEM Hub of Texas A&M whose commitment to student learning is inspiring!”
The organisers and students also expressed their gratitude to QNRF for their support, in hosting the national competition and for organising their participation in the event in Houston.
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