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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Puerto Rico teams to participate in global robotics championship

The goal of Caribbean Robotics Academy, its executive director said, is to put students’ knowledge into play at a level never before seen in Puerto Rico in order to expose them to new multicultural opportunities and experiences, and to position the island as a world power in the field of robotics.

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico will participate in the VEX Robotics World global competition championship in Texas in April, with a delegation of seven teams made up of 31 students.

Kelianet Roque, the project director of the nonprofit Caribbean Robotics Academy (CRA), which is the official coordinator at the local level over the next few weeks, said the composite delegation of students from the intermediate, higher and university levels will be prepared to represent Puerto Rico while raising funds to pay for the trip. Local champions will hold training events open to the public, one of them with the possibility of expanding the participation of native talent in the VEX championship tournament, which has been certified by the Guinness World Record as the largest robotics competition in the world.

“Puerto Rico will have extraordinary representation,” Roque said. “We have a delegation from different regions of the island and three academic levels, including university. All students have strived to represent their country in the face of immense challenges in and out of the competition. We are extremely proud of them and eager to see them shine in the world championship.”

CRA Executive Director Pedro Alvarado noted that “in this year’s delegation we have veteran students with up to 6 years of experience, alongside novice students with an impressive hunger to learn and develop their skills.”

He said the goal of CRA is to put the students’ knowledge into play at a level never before seen in Puerto Rico in order to expose them to new multicultural opportunities and experiences, positioning Puerto Rico as a world power in the field of robotics.

Alvarado and Roque – both engineers and alumni of the development programs of the REC Foundation, which is the coordinator of VEX Robotics World Championship – founded the CRA last year due to the need to reactivate the events after the decline caused by the pandemic. They stressed that the experience gained in competition not only provides young people with academic or intellectual challenges, it also helps them to socialize, learn to work in a team to solve problems, manage their frustration, design plans and manage projects, among other professional and life tools.

“We were competitors, mentors and judges for most of 10 years on the VEX platform, and all this experience made us want to transmit the passion we have for robotics to the new generations,” Alvarado said. “It is very satisfying to see the perseverance of our students and how they have faced the various challenges that Puerto Rico has had with resilience.”

The teams that form the delegation that will travel to Dallas this year include students from Colegio San José de San Juan, Hogar Colegio La Milagrosa de Arecibo, Adianez School of Guaynabo, the Municipal Robotics Club of Salinas and KHU Inventors Club, along with university students from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus.

In preparation for the global event on April 24-29, the Puerto Rican delegation will hold a series of events open to the public on the following dates: March 4 at the College Adianez, March 18 at Ángel Luis “Cholo” Espada Coliseum in Salinas, March 25 at Colegio San José and April 15 at Hogar Colegio La Milagrosa.

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