Washington, D.C. – Today, a robotics team of Iranian high school students were the first to arrive in Washington, D.C. for the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge – an international robotics competition hosting one high school team from each of the nearly 160 participating nations coming together to compete in an event that aims to address the world’s most important issues.
Team Iran’s robot kit – a box containing robot parts provided by FIRST Global – was not approved for shipment to Iran due to sanctions on technology exports to the country, preventing them from assembling the robot they needed to compete. In turn, FIRST Global recruited a robotics team of American high school students called Gryphons exe from George C. Marshall high school in northern Virginia, who eagerly partnered with Team Iran to build and program their robot with the team’s direction over video conference.
After traveling thousands of miles from Tehran to Dulles International Airport, the team was received by FIRST Global staff and the Gryphons, who welcomed them to the United States. FIRST Global President, former U.S. Navy Admiral and Congressman, Joe Sestak, said he is excited to have the team in the United States.
“This team overcame a real challenge: unable to receive their robot kit, these young Iranians jumped at the opportunity to work with an American high school team that built and programmed their robot under the Iranian team’s direction. This shows the power of cooperation and international unity, proving that nations can convene and realize their similarities greatly outweigh their differences”, Sestak explained.
Team Iran will be practicing over the next few days to interact with their creation for the first time and catch up with the teams who were able to receive their robot kit and had more time to prepare for the competition.
All 163 teams will be competing on 16-18 July at DAR Constitution Hall to address one of the world’s most important issues – access to clean water, one of the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering identified by the United States National Academy of Engineering.