Paramount Group has launched a new annual robotics competition entitled ‘Parabotics’, open to high school pupils, college students and university undergraduates from South Africa, with the aim of developing robotics and tertiary education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The initiative was launched on 19 September at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2018 exhibition outside Pretoria.
Paramount said the contest would start in January, with finals scheduled for December 2019. The Parabotics competition will enable young learners to be educated and trained on how to build and programme desktop-scale robots, while being encouraged to pursue related fields of study.
Parabotics is a Paramount Group initiative hosted in partnership with the Technology Localisation and Implementation Unit (TLIU) and the AAD Youth Development Programme (YDP). The Parabotics partnership will also include a year-long training programme , initiated annually for previously-disadvantaged youth, whereby they will receive support and training in electronics, programming and robotics.
Ralph Mills, the CEO of Paramount Advanced Technologies (PAT) told defenceWeb it is important to attract young people to the industry and Parabotics is part of this. Paramount also encourages youngsters to gain robotics and engineering experience by assisting with development of the AREND unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), being developed by university students, and the sponsorship of a Baja buggy for a student engineering competition.
As part of its STEM and robotics development initiatives, Paramount and partners at the youth development pavilion at AAD 2018 allowed learners to build and programme a desktop-scale robot to autonomously navigate through a maze.
In addition to preparation guidance for the Parabotics competition, training in electronics and mechatronics will equip South African youth with next-generation skills in automation and control, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), technologies today required to meet the challenges and opportunities borne from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Paramount said.
Alison Crooks, CEO of Paramount Industrial Holdings stated: “we wanted South African youth from all across the nation to be able to participate in an open-source hardware robotics competition like no other, which means also delivering training and opportunity to remote parts of the country. South Africa may be an emerging market, but we can be world class in every way; through the boons of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we today have the potential to effectively leapfrog the West in technological proficiency. If one just looks at the products that Paramount Group has on show at AAD 2018, they are miles ahead in certain cases, than similar products available from our first-world competitors”.