Elizabeth Moir Students to Participate in World’s First International Robot Olympics


Pictured left to right: Shivahshankaran Satchithananthan (teacher), Amjad Hamza (reserve), Ishini Gammanpila, Ali Anver, Vinidu Jayasekara, Akash Gnanam and Dilum Rathnasinghe (teacher)

With a mission to spread science and technology leadership around the world, FIRST Global is launching the world’s first International Robotics Olympiad for high school students which will take place from July 16 - 18 in Washington D.C.

More than 160 nations have registered to participate in the event, with each nation represented by one school robotics team. First Global will bring together high school students from all over the world to challenge these future STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) leaders to think of STEM rooted solutions to global challenges. The inaugural challenge involves designing, constructing and programming a robot which will be able to differentiate between clean and dirty water and ultimately provide access to clean and potable water.

In Sri Lanka, with the collaboration of Tech Assured Holdings (Pvt), it was Elizabeth Moir School’s immediate and enthusiastic response in the midst of tight deadlines that led to their selection as the official team that will represent the country in the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge. 

Team Sri Lanka’s travel expenses will be covered by Virtusa Corporation. Krishan A. Canekeratne, Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Virtusa Corporation, and the first Head Boy of CIS appointed by Mrs. Moir within months of her first coming to Sri Lanka in 1982, had this to say.

"We are honored and delighted to sponsor Team Sri Lanka in the international Robotics Olympiad.  The enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity and highly-refined problem-solving skills these students bring to the world of robotics is truly inspirational.  These future technology leaders and STEM enthusiasts will be demonstrating thought leadership as it relates to the cleanliness of water on a world stage, setting an example to young and old alike, that together, we can find solutions to the problems that affect each and every one of us on the planet." 

Ishini Gammanpila, Akash Gnanam, Ali Anver and Vinidu Jayasekera are the Moir students who will represent Sri Lanka at the event. The team members possesses an eclectic mix of talents and are a far cry from the stereotypical STEM ‘geeks’ portrayed in mainstream media.

Ishini, who has been building remote controlled boats with her father since she was eight was one of the leads in this year’s school play – Rumours. She is also a full scholar at the school who has excelled not only academically but also in swimming, singing and dancing. Akash is the school’s Drama Club President, and is also a programming guru.

Ali is a big thinker. He believes that STEM related advances are accelerating at a speed that frankly scares him. But instead of shying away from these advances he wants to be part of it. Vinidu is a master of coding and imagines herself in a job that allows her to pursue Artificial Intelligence. The teams video for the competition can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0BeYPzATfA

For the students representing Sri Lanka in the first iteration of the FIRST Global Challenge, this experience is an opportunity to share their knowledge and accomplishments, and those of their country with the world. This year’s event will not only provide an opportunity for students around the world to learn and discover more about the exciting world of robotics, but will also teach them the value of teamwork and the importance of gaining the trust of their peers, regardless of their place of origin, creed, religion, or race. 

About FIRST Global

FIRST Global organizes a yearly international robotics challenge to ignite a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among the more than two billion youths across the world. By bringing these future STEM leaders together in an engaging and collaborative competition that drives home the importance, excitement, and applicability of STEM education, FIRST Global inspires students to learn the skills they will need to make the discoveries their parents and grandparents would consider miracles, impossibilities, or just plain science fiction. FIRST Global also strives to convince the various national governments and organizations of the world to embrace STEM education, and to support it by investing in their young adults that will soon begin to make their marks in the world.

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