This is the interview of Sajida Jomeer, one of the five students who formed part of Team Mauritius in FIRST Global 2023, Singapore.
Tell us about your trip experience!
“Well, for me, it marked the very first time I travelled by plane, and the experience was truly amazing despite the challenges of getting a good night’s sleep. Emirates’ services left a positive impression on me; their staff was extremely kind and helpful. The journey from Mauritius to Dubai was great. The flat escalators in the airport created a unique sensation, almost like walking through time. The subsequent flight from Dubai to Singapore was equally enjoyable, even though it involved much walking. It turned out to be a great workout for our calf muscles.
Emirates provided us with healthy food on the plane, and while I enjoyed it, I found myself still a bit hungry by the end. Nevertheless, it encouraged me to maintain a healthy diet. Upon arriving in Singapore, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience, except for one thing – the climate was even hotter than I had anticipated. Despite that, it was an incredible journey that I enjoyed, and I am looking forward to the possibility of doing it all over again.”
What are you grateful for during the FGC 2023 journey?
“I am immensely grateful for the entire experience, especially since it was my first time participating in this event. Despite being part of it for nearly three years, it often felt like a dream. As someone with a deep passion for robotics, it offered me an invaluable opportunity to explore a wide range of robots and understand their diverse functions. On the way to the Singapore expo, while we were all waiting for the doors to open, I could not help but feel a bit anxious about not making it through as I observed the other robots. Yadav’s departure made me even more concerned, but I found the strength to push through, thanks to Yazd, who talked to me.
Even though our team did not make it into the top 20, it is still a respectable outcome. I gave it my all, and this experience is one I am truly thankful for. I have no regrets about participating because it was a journey filled with enjoyment and valuable lessons on responsibility and resilience during challenging times. Furthermore, being the team captain was something I felt grateful for. It helped me be more mature and better understand my teammates. My mentors played a significant role in this journey, and I genuinely enjoyed their company. Moreover, I learned the importance of not wasting resources, especially when everything comes at a cost, and I am thankful for that lesson.”
What was your role and duties in Team Mauritius?
“I was part of Team Mauritius, where I had multiple roles. I was the team captain with Sudharshan and worked as the programmer and helped assemble. At first, I was worried that programming would be challenging, but I was surprised that I really enjoyed writing programs. It feels like I do not get enough of it; it has become fun. As the team captain, I had to ensure everything went smoothly and everyone followed the rules.
As an assembler, I had a blast trying to take apart and put together our robot as fast as possible. Those tiny bolts were annoying because they kept falling and getting lost when we needed them the most. I also helped fix parts of the robots when damaged, and I had to be responsible and act like an adult.”
Which of your qualities have your team members admired the most?
“There was this one time when I fixed a motor issue, the climber. It was going in the wrong direction, and I figured out it was a programming problem, which relieved everyone. During another challenging moment, when there was a risk of COVID-19 affecting our team members, I did not give up. I remained determined and committed to participating in the upcoming match.
I think they liked that I was there for them if something went wrong. But probably what they admired the most was my programming skills. I was the one who did all the programming work without a partner.”
What do you think you could do to bring more value to Team Mauritius and get a better result?
“Looking ahead to the next season, we must work harder, respect time limits, and aim for a top 20 spot. We want teammates genuinely into robotics, not just in it for fun. Following the rules and listening to our captain and mentor is essential. We might need stricter schedules with two weekly sessions to improve our game and build our team‘s reputation.
Also, let’s not overreact to minor illnesses. A small fever does not mean you are knocked out. But next time, Team Mauritius will be even better and stronger.”
Back to Mauritius, how do you intend to promote STEM Education among young people?
“Upon returning to Mauritius, I’m eager to promote STEM education and share my experiences from Singapore with my friends and family. I want to share how incredible STEM education is and how it offers numerous advantages, especially for those who study physics and math. I plan to encourage them to have an interview with YUVA, showcasing what they have missed by not being part of STEM education. To spark curiosity, I aim to provide insights into what STEM education involves, arousing their interest and emphasizing the fun side of learning.
Leveraging social media is key since everyone is on social media nowadays. Sharing my experiences will draw their attention. I will also highlight how STEM education connects us with new people and leads to learning experiences while helping us make friends worldwide. Inviting them to visit me in my office during work hours will provide them a glimpse into the world of STEM education.”
Do you have any suggestions for YUVA that the latter can consider while preparing for next year’s FIRST Global event?
“As advice for those preparing for next year’s First Global event, I strongly recommend maintaining determination and hard work while not giving in to discouragement. Ensuring the robot is completed well before the final months, adhering to the event rules, and balancing work and enjoyment are crucial. Setting a clear goal of securing a spot in the top 20 to access the finals is a worthy ambition, and it’s vital to be ready to make sacrifices in your schedule while mastering time management.
Incorporating advanced features into the robot design will also allow for comprehensive checks, reducing last-minute concerns about potential damage. Following these suggestions can significantly enhance your chances of success in the upcoming FIRST Global event.”