Crown Heights

Afghan robotics team impresses Brooklyn pols

July 21, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn lawmakers U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (right) and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (third from left) were among the members of Congress congratulating the Afghan girls robotics team and their coach. Also pictured are U.S. Reps. Grace Meng of Queens (far left) and Susan Davis (next to Clarke) of California. Photo courtesy of U.S. House of Representatives

The girls on the Afghan robotics team who competed in a recent international competition in Washington, D.C. are an inspiration to young women everywhere, according to U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, who met with the young competitors after the contest.

The Afghan team was among squads from around the world competing in the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition.

The teams had build robots and came to the competition to demonstrate the abilities of their robots.

The Afghan girls almost didn’t make it to the competition. Their visa applications were denied twice. But after President Donald Trump intervened, the girls were allowed entry into the U.S., The New York Times reported.

“I want to commend these young women who persevered despite the obstacles and achieved success at the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge,” Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.

The three-day competition took place July 16-18 in the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall.

The contest, which drew teams from 163 countries, was designed as an Olympic-style event. The competition was sponsored by FIRST Global, a nonprofit organization that works to promote an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in students around the world.

The Afghan team’s robot was named “Better Idea of Afghan Girls.”

Team Europe came out on top, winning the gold medal. The silver medal was awarded to the Polish team. The Armenian team earned the bronze medal.

But the Afghan team was awarded a silver medal for Courageous Achievement. The gold medal in that category was won by South Sudan.

The FIRST Global Challenge is an important step in promoting STEM for girls, Clarke said.

Historically, the contributions of women and girls in science, math and technology has been undervalued or even ignored. This competition demonstrated once again that young women from every part of the world must have an opportunity to pursue their interests and fulfill their great promise,” she told the Eagle.

FIRST Global Founder Dean Kamen said STEM is tied to a country’s economic growth.

“By empowering the bright young minds of tomorrow through STEM, countries all over the world, particularly in developing countries, could experience accelerated economic growth, and obtain secure and peaceful livelihoods for their nations. This will require the collective efforts of individuals, corporations, governments and nonprofits willing to invest in STEM education and infrastructure, and provide equal opportunities to all students,” Kamen said in a statement.