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Pres boys representing T&T
The love for robotics will take three students of Presentation College in Chaguanas to an inaugural competition in Washington, DC, hosted by a not-for-profit organisation called FIRST Global.
The T&T team is among 160 countries participating in the event which seeks to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Form Five students Josef Gonzalez, Avidesh Marajh and Fahad Hosein left the country early Friday morning with their physics teacher, Daniel Ramsook and mentor, Vikash Marajh.
They also took their robot called Max, an acronym for maximum acquisition executor, which they’re hoping will make them champions this week. The prize is not yet known.
Beaming with pride they all said, “We are not there for the prize. We just want to be there.”
The opening ceremony takes place later today at the Dar Constitution Hall. There will be six rounds in the competition starting tomorrow and ending on Tuesday, with the closing and awards ceremony on Wednesday.
Max was named after school teacher Raphael ‘Max’ Ramlal, founder of the Robotics Club.
The team will meet up with another mentor Shastri Ram, who copped the President’s Medal in 2011. Ram is also a past student of Presentation College.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and robotics major, with honours from Carnegie Mellon University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in robotics.
Ramsook said the team consults with Ram frequently about the design and robotics.
“We are always seeking his advice. We Skype with him regularly to give him updates and feedback.”
When the Sunday Guardian visited the students last Thursday at the school, they were putting the final touches on Max.
The trio said robotics was their passion and they are hoping to fly the T&T flag high.
Competing on a national level is nothing new for Gonzalez and Marajh (A). They both represent the country on the national badminton team.
They spoke about their love for robotics and their eagerness to make more students aware of this technology that deals with the design, construction, operation and application of robots.
A lot of trial and error
Marajh (A), 16, who is president of the Robotics Club said, “My real love is programming. Robotics is the most interactive way to express code. I hope to represent Trinidad well and come home with a medal.”
He hopes to pursue a career in computer science and software engineering.
This competition means a lot to him since “we will always be the first. It will be part of our legacy”.
He said next year there will be an official league with competitions to determine who will be part of the national team.
“We approached other schools but they denied so it just ended up with the three of us from Presentation College, but we are a national team.”
His older brother, Vikash, a past student, said he hopes robotics will be introduced on a broader scale to other students. He is currently pursuing a degree in bio-medical engineering at King’s College, London. He is a co-mentor.
The students are awaiting results in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate where they all wrote science-related subjects.
Gonzalez, 16, said he was introduced to robotics by Marajh (A). “I hope we win the competition. It really is about who could control the robot. It’s more about tactic.”
He wants to pursue a career in aviation and make his parents proud.
Hosein, 17, idolises Ram and is hoping to follow in his footsteps in the field of robotics.
He said, “I have always liked robotics. Since I was a child I have been building stuff out of legos. Robotics is the end point of everything...in life.”
The team starting working on the robot around Easter. Ramsook said after exams, the boys spent close to eight hours a day for three weeks on the design. It took them about three months in between studying.
He said, “We got the kit during the Easter vacation. We had to get a design and then make it work. We switched many times so there was a lot of trial and error.”
He said the boys were well-disciplined and worked well together as a team.
“They are dedicated and committed and I see excellence in them.
“Their competencies and capabilities bounce off each other. Josef is a team player, Avidesh is great in programming and Fahad has exceptional leadership skills.”
What Max does:
It moves. Meets the obstacle (a ball). Picks it up. It then transports it up an elevator and sorts it into like colours.
It’s then stored and deposited in certain spaces.
Depending on the number of objects that are deposited, the team receives points.
The concept is movement, collection, separation, storage and deposit.