The robots are coming. That is a predictable future with regards to the trends across the globe on robotics, a branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineering and computer science.
Machine learning is the stage for robotics now where artificial intelligence (AI) provide robots with the ability to automatically learn and improve on experiences without new programming.
In West African country Ghana, robotics is still baby steps for a place where innovation hasn’t gained much grounds.
The young ladies at Methodist Girls’ High School located at Mamfe Akuapem in the eastern part of Ghana are putting in efforts to change the innovation narrative.
Having triumphed at world level after emerging winners of the 2019 World ROBOFEST competition beating heavyweights like Japan, China, the United States and Korea, Pulse.com.gh went behind the scenes for the story of these young ladies.
Methodist Girls’ High School introduced the young ladies to the significance of robotics in the modern technological and innovation world. The art of competition in robotics according to the girls started when they took part in the Robotics Inspired Science Education (RiSE) with the team becoming the first ever to win it as all girls.
As a motivational script for the girls, robotics at Methodist Girls’ High School took a step further to create history. For the first time, two teams from one school were selected to represent Ghana at the international level.
ACROBOT and I-BOT were the teams from Methodist Girls’ High School who joined Cosmic Intellect to represent Ghana. ACROBOT conquered the world putting Ghana first on the map as the winners of the 2019 World ROBOFEST competition.
“Being the first all-girls team to ever win the national qualifiers for ROBOFEST 2019 was very exciting,” Sandra Yeboah, a team member of ACROBOT tells Pulse.com.gh.
“When we left for the (world) competition, there was one thing our coach kept telling us. He told us this wasn’t a vacation so we made sure we work very hard to expectations. We had sleepless nights as we stayed over working hard towards our goal. Looking at the task at hand, we had to stay and work very hard,” ACROBOT team member explains to Pulse Ghana.
“Ghanaians have shown a lot of support to us. They have been really supportive even though they have no or little idea about this robotics mission we’re embarking on,” Keren Akuoko Sarpong who is part of ACROBOT acknowledges the support.
“They have been motivating us to put in our all and do more,” she adds.
Catherine Banson who wants to be a Nuclear Physicist has channelled her interest in robotics to broaden her ideas around engineering. She keeps exploring because she feels robotics is part of everything in the modern day.
Despite the sleepless nights, tiredness and sometimes the hunger from forgetting to eat, robotics at the Ghanaian school located at Mamfe Akuapem is not dying anytime soon.
The school has put in measures to create a culture of interest in robots with a new team set up to begin their journey in conquering the world like ACROBOT.
Robotics is introduced to students as one of the key things on their first day at school. PACK’s team leader Jessica Nunoo tells her story to Pulse Ghana.
“We were introduced to robotics by our patron. He told us on our first day at school what it entails and its importance,” Jessica tells Pulse.com.gh.
“Combining robotics and academics is just application of what you’re taught in class, the maths and the physics,” she adds.
Support and Encouragement
The Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation has a mission to inspire, unlock creativity, innovation and passion for science and technology for young Ghanaians. Founded by Dr Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu in 2011, the foundation has gained grounds with the world win in 2019.
First Lady of the Republic of Ghana alongside the former president of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings commended the Methodist Girls’ High School students for their feat.
The First Lady, Rebeca Akufo-Addo wrote:
“I am absolutely thrilled to know that an all girls team from #Ghana won the World Robofest Championship in the United States. They edged out top teams like the USA, South Korea and Mexico. Thank you lovely ladies for making Ghana proud. #GirlPower”
His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings said:
“The achievement is more inspiring coming two years after the school also picked awards at the Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) World Cup in Odessa, Ukraine.
“I warmly congratulate the victorious group, staff and students of Mamfe Girls for their strong quest to pursue innovative projects which expand the academic, scientific and vocational horizons of students.
“It is my desire to see Mamfe Girls chalk more feats and urge other schools in the country to take a cue from these achievements and work hard to develop their talent through such innovational school projects.”
Robots and the Future
Despite Ghana taking new steps towards robotics, the future of robots is highly interesting. The next generation of robots is being worked on to operate more like humans with realistic looking hair and skin.
Research on embedded sensors is being explored to make robots react naturally to the environment.