When we entered the new campus of United International University (UIU), the cavernous layer which is usually buzzing with students was quiet during the lazy Thursday afternoon. But the laziness in the atmosphere faded once we entered the room full of college students laboriously working on their computers and designing their robots for the first ever robotics competition for college students in Bangladesh. We visited the new campus near Badda to see what it was all about.
The competition took place on March 21 and 22, kicking off with workshops on coding, necessary to prepare for the competition. It showed the students how to make the robot using the software Scratch. The workshops were conducted by instructors from Villing Inc. and their sister company Venturas Ltd. who helped the students through the entire process of the competition. 11 teams with 5 members each from all across Dhaka were tasked to make their own simple line follower robot using what they learned from the workshops. Once they had finished making their robots and designing the necessary codes, each of their creations had to fulfil the task of successfully travelling a black line track.
After tedious preparation and a tough competition from 10 other teams, 5 students from Notre Dame College, Md. Iftikhar Alam Omar, Saran Debnath, Al Mubin Khan Nabil, Al Imran and Argho Roy took home the first prize, winning BDT 100,000 and a chance to go directly to the second round of GP Accelerator program. The prize was handed to them by the ICT minister Mustafa Jabbar.
We spoke to the founder and CEO of Venturas, Yoriko Ueda who expressed her delight regarding the contestants and the potential of Bangladeshi youth, “We wanted to help students here to become more acquainted with computer programming and to enhance their analytical ability, given where the rest of the world is headed today in terms of technological advancements. They have a lot of potential and the will to learn new things. We hope we can provide them with more opportunities like these.”
Chowdhury Mofizur Rahman, VC, UIU, told us how their expectations from the competition were fully met, “I was skeptical about whether or not they could learn how to code and make a robot in one day. But they surprised us all with the talent they showed and we hope to host more events like these in the future.”
The two-day long competition, hosted by UIU was a collaborative initiative with the main organiser being Venturas Ltd. (mother company Villing Inc.), which is a Japanese educational technology company that wants to help Bangladeshi college students enhance their knowledge on computer programming and IT. The event was also officially supported by Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), the competition being an important step towards making Bangladesh a digitally advanced country.
The closing ceremony included a heartfelt performance by a Japanese duo who sang Bengali and Japanese songs, while an auditorium full of young college students cheered and sang along. After this, the winners were awarded, bringing the event to a successful completion.
The full list of the winning and participating teams are given below:
Winner: Notre Dame College