Iraq Robotics Team Returns Home from International Contest

Iraq Robotics Team Returns Home from International Contest

A six-strong Iraqi team has returned home to Basra after rubbing shoulders with students from nearly 160 other nations at a robotics contest in Washington, D.C.

After six years of competition, this year's FIRST Global Challenge event held in July over three days was the first to feature a team from Iraq.

Two mentors and four students were tasked with making a robot from a standard set of parts intended to carry out a set task.

Mohammed Al-Battat, a student mechanic in the team, said the contest gave Iraqis the chance to show a different side of their country to the world.

"Iraq has been a war zone for about 40 years, one conflict followed by another. And mass media have been focusing only on wars, leaving aside the innovation of Iraqis. So those young people from Iraq with talents and capabilities, mainly in the field of robots, which is a sophisticated sphere of applied sciences, this will reflect a good image of Iraq. It also shows that Iraq is not only a war zone, but it is just the same as other countries," al-Battat said.

The team started making the robot in March at one of their mentor's homes and finished it in 30 days.

Their robot was designed to highlight the effect of pollution on water and the environment. It was constructed to isolate orange balls, which represent contamination, from blue ones, which represent pure water.

Nawres Arif, the team's design and electronics mentor of the team with 13 years' experience, said they had freedom to achieve the set aims of the contest.

"The competition focused on the best manufacture of a robot according to specific requirements. But at the same time, there was openness to innovation, with equal opportunities given to the participating teams. We were asked to build a robot using a kit of materials sent to all teams," Arif said.

Hussein Ala was the programming mentor for the team, which also included students Yassir Bassel, the designer, Mohammed Al-Shati, the programmer, and Ali Al-Behadili, the team electrician.

The FIRST Global Challenge event is held in a different country each year to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics among young people around the world.