Prime for innovation growth following its Aerospace engineering roots, Northern Ireland hosted competition to develop local STEM talent.
Robots built by students in Northern Ireland competed on Wednesday 7 Feb 2020 at FIRST® Tech Challenge UK’s regional tournament at W5, Belfast. The winning teams will now progress to London’s Copper Box Arena in March where they will compete to represent the UK in the world championships in May, held in the USA, alongside 40,000 young people from 100 countries.
Teams that secured a spot in the national championship:
Ed Cervantes-Watson, CEO at FIRST Tech Challenge UK, said: “Events such as these are critical in raising aspirations and understanding of the possibilities in technology, engineering and beyond. The talent and teamwork demonstrated by young people working with industry was phenomenal. Teams with varied experience collaborated to share their strengths and returning teams demonstrated clear progression, applying their experience through game play and communication.”
FIRST UK is more than a tech education charity. While the programme aims to make STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) less intimidating and more inclusive, it is also connecting young people with industry, providing new role models and teaching vital skills. Through the programme young people work on their soft skills – such as problem solving, working and collaborating with others, and building confidence and resilience.
Meeting weekly from September until March, teams of up to 15 young people aged 12 to 18 design, build and programme a robot to take on a global challenge with support from an industry mentor. FIRST UK has worked alongside industry to co-create content linked to the curriculum that gets young people thinking and operating like a business team, adopting roles found in the workplace.
FIRST UK is backed by businesses keen to bridge the gap between education and industry, building an inclusive talent pipeline equipped with the skills needed for tomorrow’s jobs – the Northern Ireland tournament is led by regional delivery partner, W5. It is estimated that the shortage of STEM skills in the UK is costing businesses £1.5 billion a year as they struggle to hire, train and retain talent. Research from 2018 shows that there’s a shortfall of over 173,000 workers in STEM in the UK.
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You can follow all competition activity live with the hashtag #MoreThanRobotsUK on Twitter and Instagram. If you’re up for volunteering like some of our epic Game Changers, sign up to our national championship taking place 27-28 March 2020.
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