NegOcc banks on robotics for ‘solutions’

BACOLOD. Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson (third from right), NOLITC vocational school administrator Ma. Cristina Orbecido (center) and Data Science and Technology Corporation vice president for school integration and Pinoy Robotics founder Melvin Matulac (second from right) with some guests during the launching of Negrense Robotics and Intelligent Machines Program at the Capitol-run center in Bacolod City Tuesday, November 19, 2019. (Photo by Erwin P. Nicavera)

IN THE bid to create solutions for different problems, the provincial government, through the Negros Occidental Language and Information Center (NOLITC), has started implementing its robotics program targeting Negrenses especially students.

Dubbed Negrense Robotics and Intelligent Machines Program, the initiative is positioned to provide the necessary training to hone the fundamental skills of young Negrenses in the emerging fields of automation, instrumentation and robotics industry.

NOLITC vocational school administrator Ma. Cristina Orbecido, during the program launching at the center in Bacolod City Tuesday, November 19, said the training for an initial of five teachers has started last month.

Of the eight sessions, these teachers have yet to complete the remaining five sessions through the help of the province’s partner Data Science and Technology Corporation (DSTC).

Orbecido said the workshop will kick off with 25 public elementary students from E.B. Magalona on November 23, and another 25 students from Silay City on November 24.

By 2020, NOLITC, which is the pioneering government-led training center for robotics in the country, targets to cater to more public and private school students province wide.

“Our goal is to enable our young Negrenses to compete in regional, national and even international competitions,” she said, stressing that “but more than this, our long-term goal is to really create solutions to problems like disasters, garbage and water, among others.”

The school administrator pointed out that “we need to think for more innovative ways, education should address the problems of society.”

In January 2018, the provincial government has signed an agreement with DSTC for the creation of a robotics hub where young innovators can gather, exchange ideas and incubate solutions to problems.

DSTC’s vice president for school integration Melvin Matulac, who spoke at the launching, said it is important to introduce robotics to the students because first and foremost it’s a motivational tool.

Matulac, also the founder of Pinoy Robotics, said that after having such experience, that experience is life for the students. They will be more engaged to learning, which is very important.

“It’s not only to do robotics, but to solve the problems in the community and to be in touched with what is happening around, here in Negros,” he said, adding that “let the kids be involved because they will be the ones who will invent solutions.”

For next year, the workshop to be provided by NOLITC will include on-site robotics training, teachers training for beginner, intermediate and advanced, hands-on science-tech-robotics coding course for kids and teens.

The Capitol-run center will also serve as host venue for robotics competition. The province has initially allocated P1.5 million for the purchase of 15 robots and 13 laptops.

Matulac said it will not be expensive for the students especially it will be supported by the schools through their Special Education Fund (SEF).

Matulac underscored the need to empower teachers in Negros Occidental, to enable teachers become the champions.

“We expect that this project will expand in other cities and municipalities because the real success factor is if the mayors, through the SEF, begin to fund their own centers for robotics, he added.

For his part, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said this program is really for the young Negrenses and under the administration’s Abanse Negrense Development Agenda.

Lacson said specific areas that can be explored through the robotics program is assisting local government units (LGUs) become “smart cities” like enabling them to gather all needed information so they can decide what is good for them.

“In tax mapping, for instance, probably this could also help us,” he added.


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