Tue | Dec 5, 2023

UJAA seeks US$20,000 for robotics team

Published:Tuesday | August 29, 2023 | 12:09 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

The Union of Jamaica Alumni Associations (UJAA), a United States-based organisation, is hoping to raise US$20,000 to help send an 11-member team to the upcoming seventh First Global Challenge (FGC), an Olympics-style robotics competition to be held in Singapore from October 7 to 10.

UJAA is hoping to send eight students, two coaches and a chaperone to the event.

However, according to the president of UJAA, Donovan Wilson, failure to raise the needed funds may result in a smaller contingent going to the challenge.

The total cost of sending the team to Singapore is US$90,000.

Wilson told The Gleaner that last year an 11-member team represented Jamaica at the challenge and the goal was to send a similar team this year to the event.

The students are drawn from Hillel, Wolmer’s Boys’ School, Glenmuir and the American Institute of Science.

Wilson said a request has been made to the Jamaican Government for support but so far the association has not received an answer.

UJAA has been undertaking sending teams to the challenge for several years.

Wilson said the Jamaican Government provided some assistance in 2017 but did not provide any help last year.

“Everyone agrees that STEM education is the future and the robotics competition is one way of exposing Jamaican students to technological developments taking place,” he said.

Wilson said he was appealing to members of the community to assist in sending the team to Singapore as it would not only benefit the students taking part in the competition but Jamaica as a whole.

He said it was of paramount importance that Jamaican students be exposed to robotics if they are to succeed in the future.

The challenge is held annually with participation from some 140 countries. The 65-member umbrella organisation of alumni associations of schools in Jamaica – from basic to tertiary – has been consistent and deliberate in ensuring that Jamaica participates wherever in the world First Global founder, Dean Kamen, finds a sponsor to stage this event. This year, the challenge went to Singapore.

UJAA has been the primary sponsor since the FGC began in 2017. It has always been UJAA’s contention that the programme provides Jamaican students with exposure to a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not only allows them to engage with students from across the globe, but combines their accomplishment with encouragement and pride as true ambassadors of Jamaica for Jamaicans globally.

Last year, the Jamaica Team won the silver medal in the Albert Einstein Award category for First Global International Excellence, while UJAA won the Al-Khwarizmi Award for Outstanding Supporter.