Bangladesh impresses at World Robot Olympiad 2021
World Robot Olympiad (WRO) is an international robotics competition organised every year in over 85 countries around the globe. Hosted by the non-profit organisation World Robot Olympiad Association (WROA), this contest is divided into several categories for students ranging from 8 to 19 years old. At WRO 2021, held online this year, Bangladesh placed top spots in two different categories.
Team Prodigy, consisting of Md Sazzad Islam and Tausif Samin, ranked 10th in the world ranking of the 'Future Engineers' category. Team Powerium, consisting of Tanjim Zaman Khan, Md Ashrafuzzaman Fuad and Muhammad Abrar Zawad, ranked 16th internationally in 'Open Category (Senior)'.
Md Sazzad Islam, a member of Team Prodigy, stated that this was a monumental success for Bangladesh. He said, "WRO is one of the most prestigious robotics contests in the world, and this was the first time Bangladesh participated. Among the 66 countries and 277 teams that participated, Bangladesh was the only South Asian team to reach the top 16 of the 'Future Engineers' category. In the end, we ranked 10th overall in a category which was said to be the most challenging in WRO 2021."
Sazzad Islam is a recent graduate of Dr Mahbubur Rahman Mollah College, and his teammate Tausif Samin is a current student of Notre Dame College. "We have been interested in robotics and coding for a long time. I took courses in edX and Coursera to learn AI and control systems, where my interests first began," stated Sazzad, "Even though we entered the competition with little preparation, we are happy to have come so far in such a big global contest."
For the 'Future Engineers' category, the task was to build an autonomous robot, based on current automobile technology, that could drive around a track with the help of a steering device. Participants of 'Open Category' could build anything that followed the theme of WRO, which this year was building a 'Powerbot' to advocate energy sustainability.
According to WRO rules, every team that participates in the international round is required to clear a national round hosted by a local association. This year, Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN), a non-profit organisation, hosted the national competition, where around 22 teams participated. Team Prodigy and Team Powerium won the national round and were eventually selected for this year's international competition.
"Bangladesh is currently lacking the avenue to apply skills in robotics. BdOSN is pioneering the initiative to help more kids like us compete in such prestigious competitions," said Sazzad. He believes that the youth should use passion to drive themselves, even if society tries to discourage them from finding success in fields like robotics and AI.