Posted on October 10, 2015

Maersk Oil Qatar (MOQ) and College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q), in partnership with the Supreme Education Council (SEC) officially launched the 2015 World Robot Olympiad (WRO) – one of the world’s largest robotics competitions for young people – which will be hosted in Qatar for the first time from 6 – 8th November. The news was announced by Fawziya Al-Khater, Director of the Education Institute at the SEC, together with Lewis Affleck, Managing Director, Maersk Oil Qatar and Dr. Ken MacLeod, President of CNA-Q at a practice competition which took place at the college on Saturday October 10th.

The World Robot Olympiad is an annual competition which is part of the partnership’s drive towards realising Qatar’s human potential through science and technology in support of the Qatar National Vision 2030. It is designed to develop skills and inspire enthusiasm in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by bringing together teams of young people from all over the world and challenging them to use their creativity and problem-solving skills to build robots capable of completing a range of challenges. 

At the World Robot Olympiad, students representing more than 55 countries from around the world will compete head-to-head during the three-day event, which will take place in Doha’s iconic 6,000 square-meter Al Shaqab Indoor Arena.  The theme of this year’s event is ‘Robot Explorers’ and features various challenges that reflect local cultural influences including one for primary school level called ‘Pearl Diving’.

This year’s WRO follows the Qatar National Robot Olympiad finals which will take place at the same venue and will be held on October 30 – 31, 2015. The event is the largest of its kind in Qatar and features 1,200 students from elementary, middle and senior schools aiming to qualify to represent Qatar at the World Robot Olympiad. The impact of these activities has already meant that the SEC now includes robotics in IT curricula for most grades at all independent schools in Qatar, with students in grades three through ten now required to participate in one hour of robotics programming instruction per week.

Preparations for both events are well underway, with 600 teachers from schools across the country having participated in more than 250 teacher training sessions organised and run by CNA-Q throughout the year. Participating teachers each benefited from up to 30 hours’ worth of classroom training, providing them with important skills and experience in making the best use of robotics equipment in classroom settings. This enables them to support student teams as they prepare to participate in the Qatar National Robot Olympiad finals – and potentially the World Robot Olympiad – as well as inspiring their students’ enthusiasm for robotics and mathematical engineering on a longer-term basis.

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Training in robotics programming is one of the main elements of the GO ROBOT programme which has been sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar and delivered by CNA-Q since 2012, in partnership with the Supreme Education Council and Qatar Petroleum. Since its launch, the programme has reached more than 8,000 students in Qatar and more than 1,000 teachers have participated in robotics training sessions. Through the programme Maersk Oil Qatar has also distributed more than $1m USD worth of classroom robotics kits to teachers and schools.

Fawziya Al-Khater, Director of the Education Institute at the Supreme Education Council, at the WRO launch commented: “We would like to officially announce that Qatar will host the World Robot Olympiad 2015 which is a great testament to the progress made by the State of Qatar in supporting the development of STEM skills. The SEC is committed to developing such skills given their crucial importance in helping Qatar achieve its ambitions, and we welcome close cooperation with our partners from the private sector. We would like to thank Maersk Oil Qatar for supporting the World Robot Olympiad, for sharing our vision and aspiration for educating our young people, and for the business’ commitment to the success of the State of Qatar in the long term."

Lewis Affleck, Managing Director of Maersk Oil Qatar, said: “We are proud to be the sponsors of the World Robot Olympiad 2015 in Qatar, and to partner with the Supreme Education Council and College of the North Atlantic - Qatar for such an important event.  As one of the largest private sector supporters of STEM skills in Qatar, we are also proud of our steadfast and sustained commitment to developing the human potential of the country.  Through partnership programmes such as this we are working to make positive contributions to society in Qatar and developing vitally important skills in young people that will support of the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030.  We wish all the teams the very best of luck and look forward to celebrating their success in the near future.”

Dr. Ken MacLeod, President of College of North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q) said:  “CNA-Q is proud to be a partner in hosting the World Robot Olympiad in Qatar for the first time. At its core, this event is about providing students with an opportunity to experience robotics and encouraging young Qataris to consider STEM careers to support the future of Qatar and the transition to a knowledge-based economy. The World Robot Olympiad will be a milestone event showcasing Qatar as a host country for international events, and featuring Qatar’s best and brightest on the world stage.”