Team Acrobot, from the Methodist Girls’ High School, Ghana has emerged the winner of the World Robofest Championship in the United States.
The nine girls who make up the Acrobot team beat experienced teams from the USA, Canada, Mexico, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Egypt, India, Macau, South Africa, and Ecuador.
Ghana was highly represented in the competition with 3 teams: ACROBOT, I-BOT, and Cosmic Intellect. At the forefront was Dr Yaw Okraku-Yirenkyi, staff of the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation (GRAF). Bravely, he led the 21 Ghanaian students to the annual event at Michigan from May 16 -18.
About the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation (GRAF)
The Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation was founded by Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu. He is a 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 also one of the lead engineers behind NASA’s Mars Rover and InSight projects.
The academy began introducing Ghanaian Senior High School students to Robotics and Programming through the Robotics inspired Science Education (RiSE) program with the objective of creating and nurturing a sustained interest in hands-on science.
Moreover, they offer students the opportunity to master the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The foundation’s students equally learn Computer Science (CS), communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills while designing, constructing, and programming robots.
Through GRAF, Ghana was represented in the 20th Robofest World Championship by 3 teams (ACROBOT, I-BOT, and Cosmic Intellect).
The ACROBOT team 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 I-BOT was also placed 15th in the senior category of the senior game. 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.
What the Robofest World Championship is all about
The Robofest World Championship is a global Robotics competition for 5th – 12th graders founded by Prof. Chan-Jin Chung and sponsored by the Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan. The competitions begin with national qualifiers held in various states including the USA, Canada, and a host of others. Best teams from these qualifiers meet in the US to compete in the Annual Robofest World Championship Competition.
The categories include the Game (Complete robotic missions) and Exhibition (Show off projects). Other games are Vision Centric Challenge (Develop robots to solve problems using cameras) and Unknown Mission Challenge (Surprise missions). In addition, there is 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 also make up the list.
Since Robofest started, over 25,000 students have competed from 14 US 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.
A little history of Ghana and Robotics
Up until 2018, the Robotics inspired Science Education (RiSE) activities had seen Ghana participate in several international competitions. Ghana has participated in competitions in the US, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, India, and Costa Rica. The West African nation is also the recipient of prestigious awards including, but not limited to the under listed:
- 2016: A RiSE team finished as semi-finalists in the World Robots Olympiad (WRO) in Open Category for Senior High. WRO is the largest global competition for students at the elementary, junior high, senior high and universities so far
- 2016: A RiSE team received the TOYOTA INNOVATION AWARD at the GLOBAL ROBOFEST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP in Michigan.
- 2017: A RiSE team finished in the top 12 (from over 160 competitors) in the 2017 GOOGLE’S GLOBAL MOONBOT CHALLENGE
- 2018. A RiSE team finished 8th overall out of 23 teams in the seniors game category of the GLOBAL ROBOFEST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. This is the first time in its nearly 20-year history an African team broke into the top 10.
- 2018. A RiSE team in the SHELL OCEAN X-PRIZE global competition placed 2nd and 3rd in two separate categories of adjudication (from over 1,500 competitors).
A big congratulations to the winners of the Robofest Championship, making their way home with a golden trophy.