By Ismail Akwei
An all-girls robotics team from Ghana has won the senior division of the World Robofest Championship in the United States. They won the topmost position by beating teams from the United States, Mexico, Egypt, South Korea and dozens of others.
Named Team Acrobot, the nine girls from the Methodist Girls’ High School in the Eastern Region of Ghana dominated the 10 broad and challenging categories of the championship held from May 16 to 18 at the Lawrence Technological University (LTU), Southfield, Michigan.
The categories include the Game (Complete robotic missions), Exhibition (Show off projects), Vision Centric Challenge (Develop robots to solve problems using cameras), Unknown Mission Challenge (Surprise missions), RoboArts (Robotics music, dance and arts competition), BottleSumo (Pushing bottle or opponents off a table), RoboParade (Parade of robots), Camps, Carnival and WISER, a conference on STEM education through robotics.
The team from Ghana was able to build a robot that arranged boxes according to a binary number they were given during the competition. They also completed their missions successfully.
Team Acrobot was not the only team from Ghana. The West African country also presented a team for the junior division called Team Cosmic Intellect. The team of five boys from the Mikrobot Academy in Ghana came 6th out of the overall 52 teams in the division.
The two teams qualified from the national championship level called the Robotics Inspired Science Education (RISE) competition organised by the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation in January. They beat several teams before qualifying for the World Robofest Championship.
The Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation was founded by Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu, the Ghanaian robotics engineer at NASA and the chief engineer and technical group leader for the mobility and manipulation group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is one of the lead engineers behind NASA’s Mars Rover and InSight projects.
Robofest has been organised since 1999 to offer students the opportunity to master principles of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) as well as Computer Science (CS), communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving skills while designing, constructing, and programming robots.
Since Robofest started, over 25,000 students have competed from 14 U.S. States, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, England, France, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Lebanon, Macau, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, and South Korea. The teams compete in the junior, senior and college divisions.
All registered participants received medals and personalized certificates while winners of qualifying and championship rounds received trophies.