Thirteen youngsters from Zulia were the cause for immense joy for Venezuela after being the winners of the Gold Medal for Excellence, the Albert Einstein Award in First Global International Challenge competition held in Singapore last October.
By Correspondent lapatilla.com
The Venezuelan team also received the ‘Social Media Award’, for the social and media impact of its outstanding participation.
Team Venezuela is made up of professionals and high school students. These guys added new pages to the country’s history by obtaining such a reputable award.
Enmanuel Andrade, Samuel Paz, María Victoria Uzcátegui, Paulo Ferray, Sebastián Guadagnini, Andrés Rincón and Elio Urdaneta were the tutors of the young high school students who made up the winning team of the First Global Challenge (FGC) competition, they were also the pioneers to participate in Science, Technology and Innovation competitions since 2017.
Sofía Parra, Marcela Gómez, Rosa Wong, Gabriel Sánchez, Alex Caliman and Antonio Colina were the young team of students in charge of designing the Kashi robot, a name that means Moon in the Wayúu indigenous language. These guys used about 3,000 robotic components in their build.
First Global Challenge is an Olympic-type international robotics competition in which young people between 14 and 17 years old participate and which is held each year in a different country.
191 countries participate in each edition, the basis of the competition is the 14 great engineering challenges established by the National Academy of Engineering of the United States.
The organization’s mission is to inspire leadership and innovation in young people of all nations, empowering them through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
For this year 2023 the theme was “Hydrogen Horizons”. The objective was to explore forms of energy generation using hydrogen that may turn this element into a sustainable energy source for the planet, since it releases more energy than any other fuel without causing any type of impact on the environment.
Enmanuel Andrade, member of Team Venezuela and mentor of the group of students, highlighted that these teenagers were helped by the experience of participating in the 2022 Ka’i Intercollegiate Competition, which is a robotics contest in which Zulia is a pioneer.
“The best robot is the one from Venezuela”
Sofía Parra, high school graduate and captain of the robotics team that won the award, said that what is experienced during the First Global Challenge is unique. She claims that this changed her life and wants to share her knowledge and experience with all the young people of Venezuela.
Parra said that the four days of competition were enriching. Sharing with citizens from other countries of the world encouraged them to continue sowing and awakening the love for robotics throughout the country.
“I want to thank God for allowing us to bring this award to our country, Long live Venezuela and Zulia!” She said excitedly and then explained to us that during the competition days, the robot had to face robots from several countries. In every match three countries played against three other countries.
“One of the most fun games and which required the most concentration was the one in which you had to score the greatest number of points by collecting balls and taking them to a basket. Kashi was the fastest robot with the longest arm in the entire competition,” she said.
She recalled with enthusiasm the moment of the final match when only three countries were left: Australia, Cambodia and Venezuela.
“They called out Cambodia, only Australia and Venezuela were left. Our excitement and adrenaline were at their highest level as we were minutes away from being the winners of the world and bringing great news to our country in the midst of the vicissitudes that the entire population is exposed to, but especially the young people, many of whom are hopeless. Then they called Australia as second place and we knew we were winners, our excitement was overwhelming,” she said excitedly.
The Venezuelan team won the highest robotics award and also the Albert Einstein Award, presented by Dean Kamen, founder of the First Global International Challenge.
The Venezuelan team was also recognized for its excellent management of social networks, for the points that the Kashi robot accumulated on the playing fields, as well as for the preparation and presentation of the engineering notebook that contains all the processes involved in creating the robot.
Sofía also took the opportunity to thank the team’s mentors. She said that in 2022 her life changed and she only then really knew that she was passionate about the world of technology, and that it is that area of knowledge in which she wanted to prepare and specialize after she received the welcome speech in the Ka’i Cup.
“They, my mentors, changed my life. Participating in the First Global Challenge changes your life and makes you more human.”
Ka’i Cup created in Zulia
The Ka’i Cup Intercollegiate Competition is an event created by the mentors of the Venezuelan national team in 2022, and that same year was its first edition.
The mechanism they used to create this contest was to visit high schools in various municipalities of Maracaibo and San Francisco, to inform and make students aware of the importance of robotics, which in their opinion, is the present and future of the world.
Andrade explained that this initiative arose in them after their participation in the First Global Challenge in Washington in 2017. Since then they continued preparing and designing the parameters of this unique contest in Venezuela.
The robotics ambassador explained that this field involves electronics, assembly, computing, mechanics and 3D design, among other areas of study.
In the first edition of the Ka’i Cup, participated 24 young people from four educational institutions of Zulia State.
Of the winners of the Kai 2022 cup, the most outstanding young people during the event were selected to represent Venezuela as a team in the First Global International Challenge.
In the context of this contest was created the Zulia Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which operates in the María Calcaño Public Library, located in Maracaibo.
Team Venezuela selection
This year 2023 has been one of glory and victory for Team Venezuela, as they managed to have the Ka’i Cup validated as a competition part of the First Global International Challenge, consolidating itself at the highest level of robotics challenges and one of the best internationally.
The team that represents Venezuela each year in international competition is selected from the participants of the Ka’i Cup.
In this second edition of the Ka’i Cup, participated 137 young people from 16 public and private schools grouped in 10 teams that demonstrated their talent and skill in the seven hours of competition.
Samuel Paz, mentor of the team, reported that since 2023, the young participants in the intercollegiate competition receive a kit to assemble a robot, which is the same as the one used in the First Global Challenge, only that in the national competition the creators (competitors) design new parts to be used in the assembly of the robot.
“We allow them to design parts to further awaken their potential and see them in action in the creation of the robot. This competition gives them greater agility, as well as nurturing their knowledge for international competition,” Paz said.
María Victoria Uzcátegui, trainer of the robotics selected team, said that her objective as a professional and human is to awaken the critical and innovative thinking of Venezuelan youth. “You can’t imagine the potential there is in Zulia. In every visit we make to high schools we realize the desire to improve and shine that our youth has. We are going to support them, to give them a friendly and intellectual hand to make our country a power in robotics.”
Another achievement of the robotics selected team was getting the government of Zulia State to support the Educational Program “Ingenio y Futuro” (Ingenuity and Future), which in the first phase provided scholarships to 500 students between the ages of 12 and 18.
This educational program classes will begin this November and will last 20 weeks. Upon graduation, students will receive a certificate from the University of Zulia as Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Developers.
Paulo Ferray, a Team Venezuela coach, explained that to select the first 500 students they visited 30 schools: 15 public and 15 private. Each institution was assigned a number of places.
“At every talk we give, of 100 students who attend, 90 express their interest in training in robotics. You can see the drive and desire to learn. Our goal is to reach the greatest number of young people. We were equitable in the participation of public and private schools so that everyone has an opportunity,” he highlighted.
This topic has aroused so much enthusiasm in the region that last year the Government of Zulia State decreed that Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Day be celebrated every December 2nd.
The recurring message of the robotics selection to Venezuelan youth is to exploit and explore their intelligence, enthusiasm, desire and spirit.
“We are going to continue working hard, let’s bet on our country, on the future. Even if you feel afraid, keep going. We must be united on a purpose, continue to drive and grow intellectually. The world of robotics is incredible, there is great potential here and we must capitalize on it so that the successes as a country and as individuals continue.”
The message of these boys to young people is to believe in their strengths, to trust and fulfill their dreams. “The sky’s the limit, young Venezuelans are capable and nothing is too small for us.”