Future Inventors – My LMD article on Team Sri lanka

SRI LANKA AT THE ROBOTICS OLYMPICS

BY Angelo Fernando

 

A short walk from the White House, the steps leading up to a neoclassical building where Robin Williams once performed spill over with teenagers in bright yellow and blue T-shirts. Using screwdrivers and wire, they are feverishly fixing their robots. It’s only 15 minutes before Round 1 of the two-day competition held in July – a global event drawing 163 teams from 157 countries.

The humidity in Washington D.C. hovers around 90 percent and Team Sri Lanka’s four students are sweating bullets. Huddled in a basement, and parked between Senegal and Sudan, their 20-wheel steel robot needs some repair work.

Why? The bot they had built in a classroom (so secretive was the project, they called the room ‘Area 52’) arrived with a warped axle and damaged omni wheels. The motor failed too, which is not an uncommon problem among teams here. In a few minutes, they must have their 23-kilogramme robot working. It is the ‘Olympics,’ after all…

Link to full article here.

Published in the Sept issue of LMD Magazine.

If only schools can be like this!

I just interviewed Kris Canekeratne, CEO of Virtusa, a 20,000-strong global business consulting and IT outsourcing company headquartered in Massachusetts. Among the many strands we talked about, I was fascinated by his take on learning, and how schools ought to be the ‘ignition’ for curiosity.

“Students have an innate proclivity to curiosity,” he says – no different how engineers are inherently curious, with problem-solving and design thinking as part of their skill set. If only we could design schools to be the spark plugs of knowledge! It’s time we began exposing students to Big Data, Nanotech, AI, user experience, and gamification, he says, instead of teaching them how to memorize material just to pass exams.

To this end, here’s an example of design-thinking class at a Charter School in Berkeley, California.