Robofest 2017 – where technology, innovation and engineering meet

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February 27, 2017 by Student 24/7 Blog

On Saturday, 4 March 2017, the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU) will play host to the South African National Robofest 2017 Championship. This year’s rendition of the championship serves as a qualifier for the international competition to take place in June in Florida, USA.

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“The main aim of an initiative such as Robofest is to encourage learners to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM as it is more commonly referred to,” explains Malie Zeeman, a lecturer within the School of Information Technology on the Vaal Triangle Campus and one of the organisers of the event. Robofest is, according to Zeeman, a festival of competitions and events with autonomous robots that encourages learners to have fun while learning principles of physical science, computer science, technology, engineering, mathematics and information and communication technologies (ICT). Learners design, construct and program their own robots.

She adds that learners can take part individually or as teams. The championship caters for three age groupings, namely: Grade 4 – 8, Grade 9 – 12 and, the advanced VCC division (Vision Centric Challenge) for high school learners and university students.

On 4 March a total of 12 schools from across central South Africa will take part in Robofest. Some of these schools include: Kollegepark, Emfulenipark Primary, D.F Malherbe, Transvalia, Hoërskool Driehoek, Eligwa, Vaalpark, St. Benedicts, Cornwall Hill College, Orion Laerskool, Sheti Skool and a number of homeschoolers.

More about the Robofest Championship

The Robofest concept  has taken the world by storm since its inception in 2000 and over 16 000 learners have competed in Robofest over the past 15 years – including teams from 13 US States, England, Canada, China, France India, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, and South Africa.

According to Pieter Pretorius, South Africa’s Robofest representative, this year marks the third year that the event is being hosted at the Vaal Triangle Campus. In 2014 one junior team (JomoSoco) and one senior team (Dragons) qualified to proudly represent the country in the international leg of the competition. In 2015 the senior division once again took to the podium and saw a team from Helpmekaar College winning the international exhibition category.

Robofest 2017 will see individuals, schools and teams taking part in the following categories:

  • Gameplay
  • Exhibitions
  • Vision Centric Challenge

Pretorius explains that the international championship is contested in seven different categories and that the South African organisers are working hard to vest at least two more categories before the end of the year. Additional categories include: Bottle Sumo, Robo Parade, GRAF (Global Robotics Art Festival) and, UMC (Unknown Mission Challenge).

“Without the support of the North-West University and sponsors such as Trophy Robotics CC we would not have been able to host this exciting STEM initiative, and would not have been able to provide a platform from where young and inquisitive minds could revel in the practical application of mathematics and science,” says Pretorius.

The Robotics Championship will start at 08:00 and will take place in Building 3 on the Vaal Triangle Campus.

* The NWU Vaal Campus boasts with an active Robotics Club.

Written by: Annette Willemse (Corporate Communications, NWU)
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