Singapore team bags silver medal in first global Robot Olympics for high school students

Teams compete during the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition, in Washington, DC.
Teams compete during the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition, in Washington, DC.PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON - A team of four teenagers from Singapore's Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) have won a silver medal at the FIRST Global Challenge Robot Olympics in Washington DC.

The team finished second behind Finland and ahead of India, in the Challenge category for the most match points.

The ACS (I) team was among the top six teams representing nearly 160 countries in a global competition run by FIRST, an organisation founded by inventor Dean Kamen, who is best known for inventing the self-balancing scooter Segway.

The Singapore team comprises 17-year-old captain Isaac Lee (strategist and playmaker); 17-year-old Aron Choo (builder and driver), who is chairman-designate of the school's Robotics Club; and 15-year-olds Tan Hsien Rong (programmer) and Caven Chia (builder and driver).

Said Isaac: "We are absolutely delighted and deeply humbled to receive this award. It was the culmination of many days and nights of hard work, and we are very appreciative of the people at home and in school who have supported us in one way or another."

He added: "This prize would not have been possible without them."

Teammate Hsien Rong said competing in the first Olympic-scale robot contest had been "a unique and fulfilling opportunity", while Aron said he felt "very proud winning something for Singapore".

Caven summed up the team's feeling when he said: "I'm tired but excited knowing we've won the award for Singapore."

In the other top award - given to teams that accrued the most cumulative points over the course of the competition - the gold medal went to Europe, the silver to Poland and the bronze to Armenia.

Teams were drawn from high schools in all corners of the world, from Ireland to Afghanistan and from Gambia to Nepal.

Many of the students were on their first overseas trip, and some had never been on an airplane or even worked in robotics before.

The competition saw the teams working with the same kits, to construct a robot that gathers, sorts and then delivers coloured balls to a specific spot.

World Bank President, Dr Jim Yong Kim, was guest of honour at the award ceremony on Wednesday (July 19).

Using the hashtag for the FIRST Global Challenge 2017, Dr Kim said, via Twitter: "Congratulations to all competitors at #fgc2017! Keep dreaming & working to gain new knowledge for the progress of all people."

He also encouraged the students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to address the world's most critical challenge - water.

"Every country in the world has to have the opportunity so that its children can rise to become whatever they want - including being President of the World Bank," said Dr Kim.