The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Guyana team returned home to a warm welcome by the First Lady, Sandra Granger, Director of Sport Christopher Jones as well as several other Government officials, at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Wednesday evening, after fierce competition at the recently concluded First Global Challenge in Washington, D.C.
The young Guyanese team comprising of Ryan Benschop (team captain), Anthony Frank, Arianna Mahase, Christopher Nelson, Sahief Poese and Vevekeanand Ramnarace, alongside Team Manager Farnaz Baksh; Coach Ricky Chan; and Public Relations Officer Horace Mosley placed 10th after battling against 164 other countries from around the globe. The members.
The achievement by the nine-member team is phenomenal taking into consideration they only had four months to prepare for a competition which was new to them. However, their achievement is being celebrated by the Guyanese population.
Twenty-two-year-old Farnaz Baksh, Team Manager and one of the two lone females on the team said that part of the team’s success came from observing their environment. She explained that during preparation for the competition they experienced some difficulties which were solved from engineering techniques used in Guyana for drainage and irrigation.
Baksh stated that, “one of the main focus was our pull up mechanism which was because of the weight of the bot it was a little too heavy and then we thought our koker system in Guyana, those doors are way heavier so what is the gear mechanism behind it so that it lifts all the weight so some of the students went and inspect it and saw how the gear works and which go where so it was between torque and speed so we needed more torque and less speed so that’s how come we used a larger sprocket and it actually helped us in all six matches, we got out 20 points because of studying the koker system here in Guyana”.
During the competition, the robot was required to battle against opponents in the competition’s simulation exercise, called ‘H2O Flow’. Vevekeanand Ramnarace, who is one of the youngest members of the team, said that aim of the competition was to promote global cooperation in one of the 14 engineering issues that the world is seeking to solve. Water contamination is one of those issues.
Ramnarace explained that they had to design a robot that is able to take contaminated water, sort the contaminant particle from the clean water and dispose of them accordingly.
However, competing in such a major competition called for cooperation and support from each member of the team. Horace Moseley, Public Relations officer for the team explained that upon seeing all the different robots from the various countries the team was a bit skeptical about their chances.
Nevertheless, Moseley said the team all came together and put their best foot forward. “so, when we start and even the first day of the match, and we got out, we see our bot moving really different from every other bot, way faster, way better in performance and I was like wow to us, so our bot it really, really gave us a really good feeling right through the match, all the matches” he stated.
First Lady Sandra Granger who was instrumental in introducing the STEM initiative to Guyana said that she was overjoyed with performance of the team since robotics is fairly new to Guyana. Mrs Granger highlighted that the feat by the Stem team demonstrates what can be achieved by the young minds of Guyana, once the opportunities are presented and all the necessary investments made.
Looking towards the future, Mrs Granger pointed out that her main focus will be to ensure that every child across Guyana is involved in robotics.
The First Lady explained that, “we are talking about setting up clubs and leagues and we start competing in communities and clubs so that we start to build and grow our talents in robotics, it can only be beneficial to us… So, I see it as just pushing everything together and all the pieces of STEM coming together and moving us forward. So, it is developmental on a personal as well as a professional technical level.”
STEM Guyana now turns their focus to the next global challenge which will be held in Mexico City in 2018. Their aim is to emerge on top of the competing countries and make Guyana proud once more.