Our names are Tolu Adesanya, Ifeoluwa Aigbiniode, Oluwabusola Dada, Ruona Akpokiniovo, and Ruth Mfon-Uko, and we are members of FGC2020 representing Nigeria at this year’s FIRST Global Challenge (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and our mentor is Mrs. Oluremi Willoughby assisted by coaches Afariogun Sunday and Adeniyi Talabi.
The FIRST Global Challenge is an annual robotics competition which started in 2017 and takes place in a different nation each year. Nigeria has been represented in the annual competition since its inception themed around the greatest challenges facing our planet, including the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the National Academy of Engineering. Each year a different challenge takes centre stage in an effort to foster understanding and cooperation among the youth of the world as we use our skills and knowledge to solve the world’s greatest problems. The 2020 FIRST Global Challenge is being hosted virtually this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and has the theme of “Connecting Communities”
The 2020 FIRST Global Challenge has been a very fun and insightful experience for us so far. We have engaged in different social media and technical challenges, we’ve also had the opportunity to participate in technical training sessions hosted by REV Robotics, and we have gained valuable knowledge from attending STEM talks and interviews of seasoned professionals in STEM. This year by participating in FIRST Global Challenge we have been able to organize a webinar aimed at creating awareness on violence against women and its connection with gender inequality. We also engaged in enlightening young people in our community in different ways they can contribute to the fight against gender inequality. Furthermore, we completed a challenge where we reached out to the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Sanwo-Olu, and provided detailed suggestions on how access to STEM education in the state can be improved. These are just some of the exciting challenges we’ve completed.
We built meaningful connections with alumni of Team Nigeria and gained first-hand accounts on how impactful this competition is on the lives of participants. The majority of the alumni are currently studying engineering courses at top universities in Nigeria and overseas. FIRST Global has helped to provide them with skills they need to be successful in STEM fields and it has also helped them develop a deeper passion for STEM. They hope to return to Nigeria where they’ll be able to play important and impactful roles in the technological advancement of the nation.
As we all know, we live in a world where the rate of technology advancement is extremely high; whether we like or not, in the next 5-10 years the world would have changed drastically from what it is now, implementing more and more automation- hence, we have to keep up! As they say, children are the leaders of tomorrow- we would be the ones in careers, we would be the ones solving significant world problems, and we would be the ones to lead the nation. This is why education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is so important. FIRST Global Challenge has made us realize that we need STEM in our day- to –day activities through the various challenges we are being tasked with. Moreover, FIRST Global Challenge is more than just a competition: it is an avenue to prepare us for the future- a future where we would have to think, a future where we would need skills and expertise, a future where we would have to build and innovate, a future where we would have to collaborate with people across the globe to solve globally prominent problems.
In Summary, STEM is the future; the world is moving towards this direction. We need to move with it so that we won’t be left behind.