’22 Robot Makers winners hail from Comerío, Mayagüez schools
Creativity and youthful ingenuity were felt Dec. 16 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in Miramar, where middle school and high school students presented their technological companies at the Great Robot Makers Fair.
Using the knowledge acquired about virtual reality and integrating other technological tools, participants created solutions aligned with the four pillars of the island’s economic development: advanced infrastructure, exportation, integrated social wellbeing and human capital development.
From an application to make donations visible in case of an emergency to a sensor system that detects faults in pipes that supply water, these were some of the robotic-business ideas developed by participants in this fifth edition.
Robot Makers is a strategic project that forms part of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish) Youth Development Program that seeks to strengthen Puerto Rico’s competitive capacity through formal education in innovation and entrepreneurship from an early age.
Through this project, which was created in 2017, 174 teachers, 145 schools and 1,548 middle and high school students and university students on the island have benefited.
“This initiative, far beyond being a competition, is an initiative for Puerto Rico. Giving our young people an opportunity to present their ideas and carry them out is crucial for the reconstruction of our island,” the DDEC’s Youth Development Program Director Jorge Pagán said.
“From the DDEC’s Youth Development Program we will continue to generate changes and transformation in favor of the generation I represent. I congratulate all the young people who participated and who went the extra mile in their project in favor of the economic development of Puerto Rico,” he said.
Teachers and students participated in a series of components that gave them the opportunity to live an engineering experience that incorporates the practical application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and entrepreneurship skills. They also received equipment and the necessary tools to further support their learning experience.
As part of the final activity, students made a business pitch about their entrepreneurial robotic idea before a panel of judges composed of entrepreneurs and professionals in the business administration field.
The winners were the students from the Luis Muñoz Marín in Comerío in the middle school category and the Residential Center of Educational Opportunities (CROEM) in Mayagüez in the high school category.
Sixth-grade students from the Luis Muñoz Marín School in Comerío developed an aquatic drone prototype called “LERAB.”
The project aims to export the robot, which will increase scientific research of the seabed and the enjoyment of novel tourist experiences.
“As a science teacher and student liaison, I am proud of their dedication, passion, effort and commitment in these challenging times,” said Aixa Román, a teacher at the Luis Muñoz Marín School.
“During this process, I always believed in my students, I fostered the desire to grow and enrich themselves with new experiences. Their potential goes far beyond what they believe, it is enough to allow them to raise their imagination and to fully develop their creativity,” she said.
While the “AUDAXX” company’s — developed by the CROEM students — main service is the development of software to provide a more effective communication for people that suffer from a hearing impairment through virtual reality.
In the first phase, the software will be available in a hospital emergency room; there will be a virtual room where the interpreter will connect with the patient and the doctor. In this first phase, the American Sign Language (ASL) and the English and Spanish languages will be used.
The program will have a second and third phase where the automation of the service is seen through the integration of machine learning.
“This is a competition that every robotics student in Puerto Rico looks forward to,” CROEM Director Milton Tomassini del Toro said.
“A few years ago, the DDEC, under the leadership of former secretary Manuel Laboy [who graduated from CROEM in 1991], initiated this project that allows our students to promote scientific knowledge in the technology available for the creation and development of robots…,” he added. Yees! Co-founder Rosaleé Cordova, the company in charge of implementing the program, said “Robot Makers is a project that keeps us in tune with the transformations that are happening in the world in terms of academics and human capital development.”