Robotics competition honors Nigerian teen

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Students and parents continue to mourn the loss of Muhammad Bashir-Bello, a Nigerian boy that was in town for a robotics competition. The boy died after drowning in a local hotel pool.

After the boys passing, instead of putting the competition on hold, the family says they want it to go on, and it will.

Starting Thursday, 1,300 kids representing 20 countries will be in the Duke City for RoboRAVE International.

The robotics education competition is giving kids, like those from countries of Nigeria, who otherwise may not have the opportunity, the chance to learn how to design, build, program and test robots.

“It’s given Nigeria, personally women in Nigeria, the opportunity that women can be good in science. That we are worth it and we have a bright future ahead of us,” said Rasheedah and Alexandra, students from Nigeria. 

Rasheedah and Alexandra’s school started a robotics program this year.
 
This weekend, their teams will compete in the alpine bot and firefighting challenges, just two of the 11 challenges students will compete in.

Director of RoboRAVE Nigeria, Kingsley Imade, says the interest in his country has grown from just four students in 2016 to 85.

He says it’s also given students in his country an invaluable education in STEM, allowing them to compete in the technology industry.

“For a long time, our students have been having to play catch up with the rest of the world. What this program has done, instead of playing catch up all the time, it allows them to be the among the playsetters,” said Imade.

This weekend’s competition will be dedicated to 14-year-old Muhammad Bashir-Bello. Organizers also made a memorial reward for one of the challenges.

RoboRAVE has a huge impact on Albuquerque as well. Organizers say in 2016, it brought in $1.5 million to the local economy, according to Visit Albuquerque.

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