Dubai, UAE – Four months ago, nine teenagers in Mexico started working on prototypes to solve the global problem that is ocean contamination. Fast-forward 12 weeks, and you find them participating in the FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai that has brought together over 1,500 students from 191 countries to develop robots to clean up the millions of tons of pollutants in the oceans today.
Hosted by FIRST Global, a not-for-profit organization that promotes science and technology leadership and innovation among young people through the sport of robotics, the annual high-profile international robotics competition invites high school students to identify effective solutions to global challenges.
Members of Team Mexico are calling on all teens to take action to clean their cities, rivers and oceans. Ricardo Salazar beams: “Being able to show people that as teenagers, we have the power and the tools to make the world better is our constant motivator.”
Ricardo sees the UAE as a leading global hub for empowering young talent. He adds: “Immediately upon landing here in Dubai, you notice it’s a city that’s big on technology. You see it in the streets, in people’s interactions, literally everywhere. It’s obvious they take the competition seriously, and that they have no plans on slowing down the momentum.”
The UAE is renowned for its pioneering role in the future technologies domain. In fact, news about the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC), scheduled to take place in 2020, has already reached Mexico. Open to all countries, the competition will provide an ambitious and technologically demanding set of challenges.
Ricardo says: “The UAE is so advanced. I’ve heard about a new kind of competition happening next year in Abu Dhabi that focuses on robotics as well. When we hear things like this, we know we have opportunities as youth to be part of something that is seriously going to make a difference. Robots are essential to solve every problem in the world. As soon as we learn how robots operate and how they can be beneficial to humans, we will be able to co-exist.”
The 16-year-old wraps up with a piece of advice: “Every idea is important, and a competition such as this one is an opportunity for any idea, big or small, to be heard. Let your imagination work, and the rest will come together.”
About the FIRST Global Challenge
The FIRST Global Challenge invites all nations to send their teams to compete in its robotics Olympics that take place in a different country every year, themed around the greatest challenges facing our planet, including the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the US National Academy of Engineering. Each year, a different challenge takes center stage in a bid to foster understanding and cooperation among young people as they use their abilities to solve the world’s problems. The issues facing global society need to be solved, and the next generation can fulfill the task – together.