All-girl team show they have what it takes
Personal reporting from BHS student Kameron Young:
Each of the team members brought their own special abilities which enabled the improvement and overall success of the team. Yulia and Katie were skilled drivers who worked together to make sure that the robot could maneuver, eject the balls, and escape the ‘flood’ at the end of each match. Ashlyn was an amazing tactician and spokesperson while Nadhiri brought insight when it came to repairing the robot after each competition. I was especially excited when my Spanish skills came in handy when talking to some of the teams who did not understand English.
While our team had some problems, they were inferior when compared to the struggle of teams such as Iran, Team Hope, and Afghanistan. While I interview Team Iran, Alireza Khalili Katoulaei, revealed that their government would not allow the robot kit into Iran. This meant the team had no physical contact with the robot until they arrived in the US. The team had to Skype, email and send designs to a team in the US, who built the robot based on their designs, to compete. Katoulaei proudly stated: “Politics cannot stop friendship. We are all born on the same earth so there are no differences between us other than where we live.”
He also explained that due to the time difference, Team Iran had to wake up early in the morning because they wanted the US team to be comfortable while working on their robot. Despite their struggles, the team remained positive and placed well in the competition.
Many of the teams told me that the diversity of the competition allowed them to meet new people and experience new cultures. Each country was proud and overjoyed to be representing their country; no matter which team I asked, that was the first thing they said. Sanja Ravichandar from Team USA explained that it was a captivating experience and said that she hopes that it inspires more people from the community to do robotics, especially girls. Team Hope, a team made entirely of refugees, said: “Do not give up hope, work with whatever resources you have until you complete your goals.”
The best explanation of the competition was by Ivan Chayer, from Team Argentina who said: “The competition brings together countries and shows that there are no limits when solving problem. Cooperating is the only way the world can move forward. Competitions like this prove that it is possible.”
Representing Bermuda was a humbling and filled my whole team with pride. The knowledge that we were putting Bermuda on the map was an honor that each of us would love the opportunity to experience again. The FIRST Global 2017 Robotics competition has created a revelation to the diverse world of robotics. We met people from around the world with whom we could share opinions and learn from. The experience was inspiring for not only us, the team, but also Bermuda. It proved that robotics is a worldwide necessity without the restrictions of gender or age. This competition will spark interest in engineering for not only Bermudian students, but also students around the world.
One team with one month and one robotics kit proudly represented Bermuda at the FIRST Global 2017 Robotics competition last week.
Despite the relatively short time to prepare, they beat the US, Canada, Russia and Britain to finish 59th out of 163 and were the top all-female team.
Team Bermuda consisted of Yulia Isaeva, the captain and driver, Katie Grainge, coder and driver, Ashlyn Lee, spokesperson and tactician, Kameron Young, coder and back-up driver, and Nadhiri Worrell-Simons, back-up driver.
The team, made up of Year 10 and 11 BHS students, overcame many challenges such as a lack of experience in creating a robot from scratch and having only a month to work on the robot, when most teams had six months.
However, they pulled through and created a robot that met the competition’s challenge with a combination of hard work, commitment and perseverance. Building the robot also resulted in the girls becoming closer, which helped them in the competition when it came to trusting and relying on each other.
The team received invaluable advice and mentorship from Dave Mallon of MA Consulting, Andy Newton and Chelito Desilva from Validus and Dave Greenslade. Financial sponsorship was given by Trunomi and Argus. Construction of the game playing field by D&J Construction and hosting and logistical support by the Bermuda High School.
When the team landed in Washington, it quickly became clear that they were representing Bermuda. Because engineering is widely thought of as a male career, each of the all-girls’ teams worked hard to prove they were just as skilled and prepared as the other team.
The FIRST Global challenge sought to address the issue of providing access to clean water — more than one billion people do not have access to clean water and over half of them are children.
In the game challenge, three teams worked together to remove as many contaminants from a river as possible, as another alliance of three teams sought to do the same on the other side. This was simulated with a constant stream of plastic balls, blue representing clean water and orange representing contaminants.
As most of the other robots were much larger than the Bermuda team’s, the girls had to figure out how to work around them while simultaneously collecting the correct balls.
The team was not always successful and their robot was knocked over by some of the other teams’ robots multiple times. The team sacrificed weight and bulkiness for speed and precise movements at the cost of being easy to push over.
However, this problem did not prove to be fatal as the team was often assisted by the other teams in our alliance. They quickly gained the skill of being able to nimbly grab the balls and get out of the fray before being crushed.
Working with teams from around the world allowed the girls of Team Bermuda to see the different ways that the competition could be approached.
With 163 teams representing 157 countries in the competition, the team enjoyed seeing the different approaches other teams took when solving problems.
With problem-solving, coding, communication and team work being sought-after skills, Team Bermuda gained valuable experience in problem solving, communication, strategy and teamwork to add to the technical skills developed through the coding and engineering required for the competition.
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