Over 600 South African high school students have graduated from the Introduction to Mechatronics (i2M) training program, the brainchild of the world’s premier digital industrial, GE and leading digital education company, Digicate. After six weeks of training in Robotics through e-learning modules, the top 30 students from the program got the opportunity to present their mini Mars rover robots which they built and programmed to a panel of judges at the Grand Finale event last week Friday.
The keynote speaker at the event, Thomas Konditi, CEO of GE South Africa said “GE is committed to skills development in Africa and the i2M program is one of the many ways in which we are empowering South African youth with valuable skills. We are especially pleased to have worked with local partners to execute such an impactful project that encourages high school students to take an early interest in STEM careers. This will ultimately drive long-term growth in the country.”
Alluding to Konditi’s remarks, Digicate’s Managing Director, Sarah Quadflieg said, “This has been a fantastic run with GE Africa and other partners Ryonics Robotics and MakerBot®, and we are pleased to have seen it to fruition. We exposed hundreds of students, over 80% of whom were young girls, to STEM fields like robotics, electronics and coding, that traditionally have lower numbers of women involved. Seeing the entries come in, shortlisting them, taking the learners through the troubleshooting workshop and finally adjudicating the work has been an incredible, and enlightening experience. There is a lot that big business and corporate leaders can do to better education in South Africa, and this, our first partnership with GE Africa is a proof point of this possibility and the far-reaching impact of the work. We are excited for what the future holds.”
i2M kicked off in August 2017, reaching 30 schools from Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Bloemfontein. In total, 600 students participated over the six-week period, over 80% of whom were young girls. Students documented their robots and submitted entry videos vying for the grand prize of a MakerBot®3D printer for their school. 30 entries were shortlisted from 63 entries and some students from the shortlisted entries attended a troubleshooting workshop at the GE Innovation Centre on September 30th, 2017.
There were prizes awarded to the top 3 students as chosen by the panel of judges and several consolation prizes were awarded to students who showed great potential. The winners were as follows:
- 1st prize, two 3D printers; one for the student and one for their school: Saeistha Govender, Danville Girls High
- 2nd prize, an iPad Pro: Siobhan Forbes-Wilkonson, St Annes Dioscesan College
- 3rd Prize, an iPad mini each: Rose Mackensie & Olivia Lewis, St Cyprians High