2021 First Global Challenge Team Seychelles is all set for it! |22 July 2021
Once again this year Seychelles is preparing a team to take part in the First Global Challenge to take place virtually from June 27 to September 18, 2021 under the theme ‘Discover and Recover’ ‒ a-theme closely linked to the ongoing global health challenges posed by the Covid- 19.
Team Seychelles will be assisted by Team USA.
This year’s challenge includes the CubeSat Prototype Challenge where the youth of Seychelles will design and build a nano satellite.
This was announced in a press meeting yesterday morning at Independence House by Xavier Estico, Team Seychelles manager and also head of the division for science, technology and innovation within the Ministry for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry.
Also present during the meeting were Dr Ralph Etienne-Cummings, professor at the John Hopkins University; Joseph Raj Xavier, principal research officer for innovation, and third time participant Mikhail Rudchenko.
For the second year, this event will be hosted virtually where another 174 teams from different countries will be taking part.
Team Seychelles is made up of Tahani Malbrook from Anse Boileau secondary school; Rebecca Samantha from Beau Vallon secondary school; Banane Keine Dwayne Genario from Perseverance secondary school; Yannick Hollanda from International School; Wayne Lesperance from Independent School; Sakthi Guhan Alexander from International School (Open Innovation Challenge /Winner); Mitch Loze from La Retraite primary school; Mikhail Rudchenko ex-Team Seychelles 2019, 2020 member and Ronan Varsani ex-Team Seychelles 2019 members.
The Team Seychelles mentors are Dr Ralph Etienne-Cummings; Manfred Laporte, principal research officer / education and knowledge management; Joseph Raj Xavier, Cindhuja Kamalraj, principal research officer for technology; and Scott Thomas Morin, student / Bachelor of Civil Engineering.
The technical support from Team USA comprises Larry Lewis, team leader – First Robotics Team 1511-Rolling Thunder; and Roseanne, robot mentor, First Global Team 1511.
Mr Estico explained that the challenge is spaced out in three phases: 1) Solution Challenge: June 27 to August 7; the CubeSat Prototype Challenge and the Robotics Challenge.
“The purpose of phase one is for each team to identify a relevant problem in their community that falls into one of four categories and develop a solution to help solve it using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem). Teams can be as creative in their solutions as they choose, but should remember the six-week limit for this phase. The topics are education, health, environment and economy. Team Seychelles has selected economy for solution challenge 1,” noted Mr Estico.
The CubeSat Prototype Challenge will be when the teams will use components from a provided Arduino-based kit to design and build a CubeSat prototype and launch it into the lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere.
What are CubeSats and CubeSat prototypes? CubeSats are a class of nano satellite with a standardised size of 10cm3. They are launched into space using rocket-powered launch vehicles, or can be deployed from the International Space Station. On the other hand, CubeSat prototypes are modelled after space-ready CubeSats.
They are launched into the lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere using methods such as high altitude balloons and hobbyist rockets.
For the CubeSat Prototype Challenge, FIRST Global teams will each receive an Arduino-based CubeSat prototype kit. Teams will define a mission of importance to their community, and then use the kit to create their own CubeSat prototypes to provide a tangible solution to that local need. Teams will design, build, program, and test their CubeSat prototypes, and then deploy them into the lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere.
The Robotics Challenge is when teams will reinforce their robot design, build, and program skills using a provided REV Robotics kit of parts to complete four individual build tasks, representing different components of a FIRST Global robot.
For the Robotics Challenge, FIRST Global teams will each receive a REV Robotics kit of parts. Teams will use the components provided in these kits to create solutions to four individual build tasks. Instead of assembling a single robot, teams will complete these four build tasks, which represent major components often found on FIRST Global robots.
Other activities include Stem talks where they will take part in online presentations by engaging with inspiring supporters of FIRST Global who will discuss various topics relating to Stem, provide tips to students, and answer questions. Technical training sessions: In partnership with REV Robotics, FIRST Global will hold informational sessions on topics related to FIRST Global robots and the kit of parts. There will also be sessions on the CubeSat kit and social media challenges: During the season, there will be bonus opportunities for teams to earn points by participating in surprise mini social media challenges.
Explaining about the importance of participating in such an event, Professor Cummings said “the most valuable thing that you can do for your population is to give them a sense of technology and innovation to the point where they would develop skills that will be applicable in different domains. This is the jumping point where the students move up in their education, are enticed to learn, evolve and stay in the Stem field hopefully they come back and contribute to the development of society.”
He further stated that “the role of the first global challenge is to get young people excited about technology and innovation, robotics, science and artificial intelligence as part of extracurricular activities. This is to encourage more kids to become interested in Stem programmes. These extra-curricular activities are also a plus for them as they progress in their educational journey. One of the reasons that a lot of students are accepted at top universities is for their interest in innovation and participation in different extracurricular activities.”
Mikhail Rudchenko for his part said: “For me it has been a privilege to be part of Team Seychelles for the past two years. When I heard that this year’s challenge included the launch of a CubeSat prototype, I decided to join the team again. I will never have another such opportunity to create this nano satellite in my house. The last two editions were fruitful for me and I got to learn lots of new things.”
Mr Estico concluded by saying that with the support of the government they will try to continue to improve Seychelles’ ranking.
Seychelles has been taking part in these challenges since 2017 and its ranking has been as follows: 2017 105th out of 163); 2018 (126th out of 161); 2019 121st out of 161 and 2020 (47th out of 175).
Lynn Betsy / Vidya Gappy