The opening ceremony of the third Olympics-style international robotics competition has occurred on October 24, at Festival Arena, Dubai. The event, which was from Oct 25 to Oct 27, has attracted over 1,500 high school participants of the age 15-18, from 193 countries around the world, to compete.

Under this year topic of “Ocean Opportunities”, participants is to innovate robots that can clean the oceans via gathering trash and contaminants. The competition follows the message of “United by Land, Connected by Oceans”, which highlights the importance of protecting and preserving nature and the living environment. At the same time, the competition also encourages female team members in showing its support for female participation in STEM – an area commonly regarded as for men.

This is the first for FIRST to be hosted outside America. Every year, FIRST Global Challenge is hosted in a different nation to specify the impact of these challenges to planet as a whole, as well as to encourage new generations to continue to build their skills in STEM for solving problems.

Papua New Guinea Team preparing robot at their booth.

According to Mr. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Head of Artificial Intelligence Division, Vice President of Dubai Future Fund (DFF), the event is important in that “Robotics is one of the most important competitive scientific fields of the biggest economies in the world.”

He also added that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) particularly cares about this field due to the overflowing economic and scientific opportunities of them in the daily life, and it is always ready to contribute to finding solutions to challenges that the world may face in the future.

We see high commitment in the participants from day 1, and it has given us hope in a better tomorrow, where bright hearts and brains shall pave the way.”

Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Global, shared: “It’s not hard to understand why Dubai was so successful in holding such a spectacular event. I entertain the thought of Dubai being a special place for hi-tech events and encouragement of newly-arisen technologies.”

“Here, you know you are at the center of the world. You know you have the real motivation and ambition to make this place the global heart for changes, those led by youth”, he said.

Vietnam Team for FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai.

The challenge is divided into 6 competing regions, with 6 teams in each region, where every 3 forms a union that faces off with the other. The mission is to score the highest through 2 elimination days, then those leading in score moved on to the finals on Sunday, October 27.

The competition set is designed with regions for each team, 2 robot testing grounds, 5 sets for competing and preparation set for before competition.

One of the most important part of the set is the robot clinic, where teams can get any necessary repairs from volunteers from Dubai as well as from other countries.

At the elimination rounds, the target is to show the robots’ ability in global cleansing of the oceans and ridding them of millions of tons of contaminates that gravely affect the health of sea creatures and human.

141 out of 248 elimination matches had happened in Day 1.

The medal won by Vietnam Team at the competition.

This is the 3rd participation of Vietnam in the FIRST Global Challenge since 2017. At the competition, the team had won the Mansa Musa Award for its effort in building communities and calling fundraisings in Vietnam. Mentors of the team had also discussed with the FIRST organizers on hosting Vietnam’s own First – Vietnam Steam Challenge, and the plan had received support from the organizers.

In 2017, the FIRST Global Challenge was held for the 1st time in Washington D.C, USA, and Vietnam was regarded as a potential competitor (ranked 57 out of 163 teams, https://first.global/archive/fgc-2017/), with its versatile design and highly-regarded robotics techniques.

In 2018, Vietnam continued to participate in the second FIRST Global Challenge in the capital of Mexico on the topic of energy, and had finished at the 12 spot out of 161 teams (https://first.global/archive/fgc-2018/). The Vietnam Team was also awarded Bronze on robot design.

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