March 23, 2019
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Science & Technology

Mexico to send 50 students to Robotics World Championship

Cancun, Mexico, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- Mexico is sending 50 students to the 2019 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, in April.

The students were the top performers at the national robotics tournament, which ended on Saturday in the Caribbean resort city of Cancun.

The large contingent will give Mexico an important presence at the VEX Robotics World Championship, Reeduca México president and director Francisco Wilson Robles said.

Some 1,200 students enrolled in Academia STEM programs at private and public schools across the country competed in the eliminations round in Cancun.

The team heading to Louisville will be led by Manuel Flores, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Quintana Roo who competed in the Robotics World Championship in Anaheim, California, six years ago.

"I was a member of that team and we won the World Championship in 2013, six years later it's my turn to teach the new generation everything I learned," Flores said.

The professor said studying robotics at any level in school provided academic and social benefits.

"Competing has been a challenge because they had to learn about everything, they are (interested) in software engineering, so you have to learn mechanical (engineering), you have to learn how to work as a team, the competition has helped them bond as a team and get better," Flores said.

Wilson Robles, for his part, said expanding female participation in robotics competitions was important and he noted that the number of young women taking part in the events grew 372 percent in the past decade.

Only about 1 percent of students in robotics programs were female a decade ago, but that figure is up to 40 percent, with women now holding key and competitive jobs in the area, the Reeduca México president and director said.

Mereny Villanueva Alfaro, who is in charge of construction for the team, said she became interested in robotics many years ago and eventually started entering competitions.

"We've all spent a different amount of time in robotics, I've been at it for five years," Villanueva Alfaro said.

The female students who compete in the national tournaments said they wanted to inspire other women to enter the field of robotics.

Villanueva, for her part, said her goal in robotics was to empower other young women to follow their dreams in a field traditionally dominated by men.

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