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July 16: Carnegie Mellon Hosts High School Robotics Champs From Qatar Campus


Andy Zrimsek

Anne Watzman

Carnegie Mellon Hosts High School
Robotics Champs From Qatar Campus

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University is hosting three high school students from the Al RU'YA Bilingual School in Kuwait who took the top spot at Carnegie Mellon in Qatar's first international Botball® competition. The students won a trip to Pittsburgh as the grand prize after beating 17 other teams from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait in May.

The students and their teacher will spend five days in Pittsburgh. They'll tour the university's Robotics Institute and Entertainment Technology Center, take in a Pirates game, tour the city, do some caving and be recognized at a meeting of the Pittsburgh City Council at 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 17. Councilman Bill Peduto will be their host. For most of these academically talented students, this will be their first journey to the United States.

The Botball high school robotics competition is a U.S.-based organization that brings robotics to high schools. Student teams are equipped with a Lego© Mindstorm robot, along with instruction on how to program it to move autonomously through a course. 

Carnegie Mellon Qatar introduced Botball to its undergraduate campus in Doha, Qatar, in 2005 and four high school teams took part. Last year the competition increased to six teams from Doha, and this year it expanded to include 12 teams from Doha, three teams from Kuwait and three from the United Arab Emirates. Many of the teams showed outstanding skills in robotics and computer science, however the AL RU'YA Bilingual School in Kuwait secured the international championship.

"The trip will be fun and educational, and we hope it will be an inspiration to the Botball students to continue their good work in robotics and computer science," said Charles E. Thorpe, dean of Carnegie Mellon in Qatar and former director of the university's Robotics Institute. He plans to lead the students on their institute tour.

Because of the overwhelming success of the Botball competitions, Carnegie Mellon in Qatar plans to encourage high school students from the entire Persian Gulf region to participate in the robotics competition next year.

Note to Editors: Students and their teacher will be available for interviews and photo opportunities from Tuesday, July 17, through Friday, July 20. Contact Andy Zrimsek at 412-606-1166.