Forget the World Cup — are you ready for the World Robot Olympiad?
If you thought the FIFA World Cup was the pinnacle of international competition this year, you clearly haven’t heard of the World Robot Olympiad (WRO).
The World Robot Olympiad Association is a non-profit organisation that focuses on the hands-on development of robotics within STEM education on a worldwide scale. Every year since 2004, at least 22,000 teams from more than 60 countries have taken part in the WRO competition, comprising approximately 100,000 young people ranging from six to 25 years old.
The competition encourages participating teams to solve challenges and complex problems using mathematics, computer programming and coding skills, as well as exploring the principles of automation. It also fosters other important life skills including teamwork, perseverance, learning from mistakes and creative thinking.
The competition features several categories, including Regular (a themed category that is relevant to a prevailing global issue — this year it is Food Matters); Open (to drive innovation and creativity); a robotic football tournament; an Advanced Robotics Challenge for students aged 19–25; and WeDo, a starter class for children aged 6–10. The winners of each country’s heats move forward to the global finals, which are held in a different country every year.
“In WRO, we see robotics as a wonderful platform for giving young people around the world an opportunity to be hands-on with STEM,” said Claus Ditlev Christensen, Secretary-General at the World Robot Olympiad Association. “We see the teams adopt new technology when developing fully autonomous robots and they apply engineering processes when designing prototypes before completing the challenges. They quickly get absorbed in coming up with original solutions to complex problems.”
Juniper Networks was recently named the global technology partner of the World Robot Olympiad Association in a multiyear agreement that will see the company work closely with WRO to promote, stage and further develop this global competition. The partnership will see Juniper sponsor a new trophy at this year’s finals, known as the Juniper Networks’ Engineering Simplicity Honors Award, in which the company will judge teams in the Regular category on the boldness, creativity and simplicity of their robot-led solutions.
“It is imperative that the upcoming generations understand the importance of automation — artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtualisation — in order to take technology forward into their future,” said Mike Marcellin, Chief Marketing Officer at Juniper Networks. “Juniper Networks is proud to be the global technology partner of the WRO Finals in 2018 and beyond, as it is the perfect nurturing environment for tomorrow’s automation innovators.”
Juniper is also sponsoring a short documentary film looking at the human stories behind some of the teams and their paths to WRO 2018. The company is working in conjunction with the accomplished filmmaker and director James Redford, who is renowned for making documentary films that focus on personal, solution-based stories addressing vexing social and environmental challenges.
“My work is all about finding and telling inspiring stories that show the best in people,” said Redford. “When I heard about WRO’s competition from Juniper, the talent, passion and commitment of so many young people truly excited me. Many teams come from challenging backgrounds with less-than-ideal education provision, so their achievements are all the more impressive. It is also great to be working with a technology innovator like Juniper to help the next generation think about their STEM education in such a creative way.”
The 2018 global finals will take place from 16–18 November in Chiang Mai, Thailand, before moving to Hungary in 2019. For more information, visit https://wro-association.org/home/.
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