Robot takes first place at Olympiad

Mujahid Kippie, Ali Jacobs, Zunaid Isaacs and Zuhair Khan. In front, are Asemahle Hali, Clementine Mvukwe and Siyabonga Dabula - top achievers of the World Robot Olympiad Western Cape.

Spine Road High School pupils achieved top honours at the World Robot Olympiad Western Cape, where they programmed a model electric forklift to pick up and dump a load of Lego.

The pupils were split into three teams in which they constructed and rebuilt a robot, which would perform specific tasks, within certain parameters.

The olympiad took place at the University of the Western Cape on Saturday August 3.

Mujahid Kippie said they had had about three months to prepare, during which they had encountered several challenges.

Clementine Mvukwe said they had had to rebuild their robot within a week to ensure the machine was able to complete the necessary tasks to specification.

She said the competition made her realise the importance of playing with blocks, from a young age.

“There were primary school pupils who really had a passion for building these things.

“They were able to play with the blocks, which taught them to think outside of the box and solve problems,” she said.

Zunaid Isaacs said they had to build the robot to compliment the programme, which required specific tasks to be completed.

He said experiencing failure, and having to rebuild had been a steep learning curve and that it had forced them to learn to overcome obstacles.

Teacher and life sciences head of department George Rose said they would like to grow the interest in robotics at the school but that they faced financial challenges.

The three sets the crew had, for example, were valued at R10 000 each.

Mr Rose said they started with robotics at the school last year and were affiliated to Helderberg Robotics, who invited them to join the competition.

“The kids enjoy it. It is a break from their routine and inspires them to follow their interests. Better exposure is good for the kids who then have more opportunities (to choose from),” he said.

Principal Mark Fairbairn said he was proud of the pupils’ achievement, and the strides they had taken to develop their technical electronic skills.

“We want to be at the forefront of technology,” he said.