Young South Africans are emerging tops in demonstrating their prowess in the skills required for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The country’s local robotics boffins received another accolade last week’s Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) event, winning first runner-up  for their exhibition. The SpringBots, a local Gauteng-based team of youths passionate about robotics proved a hit with visitors and participants at the fourth SFSA event.


The team comprising 14 to 18-year olds competed at the World First Global Challenge 2018 in Mexico City during August 2018, achieving 1st place with a Gold Medal from Walt Disney for Innovation and Creativity and achieving an overall word ranking of 6th position out of a total of 184 countries who competed.


Reacting to latest win, manager, Roxanne Reddy said the team was honoured to have won an award in their first appearance at SFSA. She said they also enjoyed engaging participants on the opportunities that ‘Robotics and STEM education,’ offered the country’s youth.


 “Our vision is to grow STEM education and allow easier access to robotics to the youth of our country,” said Ms Reddy.


She described their participation at the forum as enlightening and believed the word needed to spread about forums like these to schools across the country to allow more young people to be involved.


“The messages of support we received from esteemed guests from around the world were most inspiring; and opened our minds to the fact that we need to work together in order to succeed in tasks at hand,” she said.


The awards formed part of the closing ceremony-Friday 14 December, of the fourth SFSA event.


Other runners up in the Exhibition competition, included, the South African Indigenous Knowledge-based Technology Innovation and the Netherlands Education Support Office. HySA Infrastructure won the Exhibition competition.


The SFSA 2018 Science Diplomacy awards conferred on esteemed scientists and researchers was another highlight of the closing ceremony. The outgoing vice-chancellor of the University of Pretoria, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, received an award for her contribution to international science co-operation. The Prof was also recognised for the contribution she made throughout her illustrious career advancing South Africa’s participation in global science programmes.


Other recipients of the Science Diplomacy Awards are as follows: 

·     For a contribution to pan-African cooperation in science: African Panel on Emerging Technologies of the African Union – for its pioneering work to advise through the AUC and NEPAD how Africa should best leverage emerging technologies for the continent’s development.  Prof Berhanu Abegaz is the Acting Chair of the Panel.


·       For an international contribution to scientific cooperation with Africa: Prof Michel Kazatchkine, former Director of the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, for his lifetime work to foster research cooperation with Africa, specifically for the fight against HIV/AIDS.