Photo: Venebot

“Do you like robotics?” asked the principal of my school the day my life turned 180 degrees.

“Well, of course” I said. “Who doesn’t?”

And in the blink of an eye, I was on the Venezuelan delegation in a global robotics competition waving my flag in front of more than 150 countries, proving Venezuela is a lot more than bad news. Venebot, our platform, was created to provide the opportunity for thousands of young Venezuelans interested in science and technology to come closer to the field they dream about. This year we’re representing our country once again in the second edition of FIRST Global challenge 2018, in Mexico City.

But let’s start for the beginning:

When we say “robotics”, we tend to think in talking, walking, smiling humanoids, C3P0 and Rosie the Robot but, actually, the majority of robots around us are nothing like that. And yeah, we’re surrounded by them. We define robots as machines that do repetitive, hard or dangerous tasks that we, humans, program them to do in order to improve our lives. Phones, cars, computers, washing machines and even microwaves are kinds of robots.

My school (Rubén Gonzalo Suárez Valera) was selected by Kenny Urdaneta, the Tech

We created Venebot to bring STEM educational activities to Venezuela and encourage youngsters to see a future, be skilled for the workfields of tomorrow.

Ambassador for FIRST Global, to participate in the Challenge in Washington D.C. in 2017 and, under his mentorship, we were able to assemble and program our robot, capable of moving, pull itself off the ground, collect and storage plastic balls and sort them by color. Countries all over the world have local, national and even international robotics competitions, but Venezuela has never been involved in this kind of activities — the world is moving forward while we seem to go backwards. That’s why we created Venebot, totally independent, to bring STEM educational activities to Venezuela and encourage youngsters to see a future, be skilled for the workfields of tomorrow and, maybe, become the new Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla or Elon Musk.

This year we selected five talented guys that will represent our country in FIRST Global Challenge, México 2018.

But, sadly, not all of them can attend the event and we can’t do this by ourselves. If you could lend us a hand, it’d be huge for us and you’d be helping us show a different face of our nation, the face of those who sail onwards despite the current meltdown.

You can support our crowdfunding campaign on this link and you can learn more about us here.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

54 COMMENTS

  1. This is a GREAT program for promoting and supporting STEM education. All of my sister’s kids participated in this in high school. One is now an astrophysicist and another is a mechanical engineer. The third just started university.

    I just tried to donate and couldn’t figure out how to. The “this link” link doesn’t take me to a site where I can donate. Please look into this and fix it. My sister’s family will probably be happy to help out too.

    • Engineering has always been prejudiced against females, in every country on earth. And the main reason is that for WHATEVER reason, women don’t get involved in engineering in the first place. And they’re not great performers as a result.

      They’re not encouraged to pursue the interest as young kids, and for those WITH the interest, there are obstacles put in their way. Yeah, it’s stupid and wrong…it is what it is…but this prejudice isn’t unique to VZ.

      Further, do you think women make better mothers than men? If so, do you think that’s because of gender, and how the different genders’ minds work?

      That same argument could be made to defend why men, in GENERAL, make better mechanical and electrical engineers than women.

      Our minds simply work differently.

    • I can think of two possible reasons: 1) No female was interested, 2) No female met the minimum qualifications.

      I know, I am a pig. But Jesus loves me anyway.

    • The truth is we have two girls in the group, sadly right now they have other compromises and can’t involve 100% with the project. But I have to say they are the best of the group, if they can they will be involved in further projects

      • As a female Venezuelan scientist who grew up in “el interior” and wasn’t offered any opportunities like the one described in the article it seems that entrenched opinions like Ira’s and Lorenzo’s are the problem. I am not aware of any proof that women are intrinsically better parents or worse engineers. supporting women in science and engineering doesn’t need to cost money and can potentially have FAR greater and long lasting impact than sending five males on a trip. In fact here is one way Venezuela could lead internationally in spite of the crisis.
        Don’t accept the status quo, change it!

        • I think you need to improve your reading comprehension.

          I really can’t do anything to change the status quo, because I have a penis (albeit small), and one would think it’s the female’s responsibility to do it. Why should I or anyone care? It’s your battle, so fight it. I’ll support you, but you’re not off to a good start.

          I expressed my sympathy for the situation, the prejudices against women, along with my feelings that men are better because of how our brains differ. Yet you viewed it as an attack.

          A question:

          What have women invented, outside of medical research? How many patents are held by women, historically?

  2. Another suggestion: The technology companies love supporting this program, and they get involved in a very hands-on manner. It generates fantastic publicity for them and it allows them to identify promising future employees early. You could ask various companies to sponsor you. Because of the well-known situation in Venezuela, it increases the value of the publicity. Everyone loves an underdog. You could be like the Jamaican Bobsled Team!

    In particular, Google is a strong corporate sponsor of FIRST Challenge.

  3. Good luck with your BattleBots mission to Mexico. You could start building robots to deliver Clapcrap boxes for zombie votes, or administrate the 10 Million vaccinations Nicolasno promised. (You all have your visas ready to emigrate to Chile or Spain as soon as you graduate, right?)

    • Do you ever have anything nice to say? Something hopeful, for a change? This young man is doing something positive for the country that is entirely non-political. If you can’t say something to encourage or help him, then at least refrain from poisoning his enthusiasm with your negativity and sarcasm.

      • How does this help the country?

        I would support them if I knew they weren’t getting on their return flight, because THAT would make sense.

        Thousands dying from lack of medicines, and you’re worried about robots?

        • I sometimes get befuddled in my old age, but I fail to see how helping these kids is in any way connected to helping the country, not returning home, or thousands dying from lack of medicines.

          • When Venezolanos have the right and ability to invest time / work / money into agricultural independence, and to keep the fruits of their work and risk, then will I commit my resources to help them.

          • Because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s a waste of money, resources, and effort to affect regime change.

            Many, many, MANY of us here posting are supporting family members who are either ex-pats now living in freedom or still stuck in that shithole nightmare.

            That’s money well-spent.

            Who the fuck cares about robotics!?

      • You should know by now that the comments section is almost exclusively used by expat keyboard warriors who see anything but a civil war as waste of time, but who’d never put their own lives on the line.

        • I’m American. Not an ex-pat.

          And since when are simple protests, which Venezuelans have totally ABANDONED, putting one’s life on the line?

          My God. You’re proving that Venezuelans are the biggest pussies on earth.

          • “I’m American. Not an ex-pat.”

            I didn’t name any names, pero te pico el culo igual. If the shoe fits, put it on and do a jig.

            Are you in Venezuela? If so, what do you do other than make sure you and yours are safe and provided for? Are you out there protesting?

            If you’re not, then your opinion is meaningless.

          • Escualidus…

            My opinions are meaningless? Although I still have family there, and ex-Pat family seeking asylum in the states?

            What kind of a fucking piece of shit idiot are you to tell me that my opinion is meaningless?

            You really have to go fuck yourself.

            You’re a worthless human being. Or rather…

            You’re a fucking Chavista.

          • Right on schedule, you lose your temper and throw insults around when faced with any opposition. Who’s the chavista here?

            So you’re not in Venezuela, but demand that others risk their lives and look down on a group of kids trying to further their future prospects. Just another keyboard warrior. Your MAGA hat might be too tight, bud.

  4. We are rapidly arriving at the point where technical literacy will be a basic requirement for almost any employment other than menial labor. It will be as necessary as the ability to read was to past generations.

    • What a great opportunity for these men. For people like Poeta to cynically turn this into a political football is pathetic.

      Tom in Oklahoma makes a good point.

      Good luck in Mexico!

      • If you think they’re going to accomplish shit, or that this is in the least bit important with everything happening in VZ, I would see a psychiatrist.

        It’s wonderful for kids to have dreams and ambitions, but this? Begging for money for THIS when people are dying from treatable conditions?

        No thanks. Who cares.

        • Ya know, Ira, Poeta, et al, a big F U. Amidst the squalor and decay that is Venezuela today, a few young men dream of something better. The spark represented by young people such as them is the last ember of hope for this crumbling nation. So don’t piss on their dreams. It is from these ever feeble dreams and hopes for a better tomorrow that will allow el pueblo to rise phoenix like from the ashes of the current conflagration.

          • Practicality, too. Brazil has a budding Campinas district dubbed “Brazil’s silicon valley”. And as Tom in Oklahoma said above.

            A lot of practicalities involved, like, obviously the regime has got to go, but just as obviously there have to be plans for the future.

        • Gotta go with DJK on this one. Y’all forgive me but reasonable people sometimes disagree. If they fix their website so PayPal works, they will get a 100USD donation.

        • Si no te interesa o te parece absurdo ahorrate los comentarios.
          Lamentablemente el país está así por personas como tú.
          El hecho de que el país esté como esté no significa que los jóvenes tienen que dejar a un lado sus metas y sus sueños, tampoco dejar perder sus potenciales, habilidades y talentos.

    • I went to undergrad at Harvey Mudd College, which is right across a small street from Scripps. That was a long time ago, but I recall Scripps fondly for the obvious reason was all women and they had fun “study breaks.” Not an academically difficult institution, and most (not all) of the students came from well to do families. I suspect that last part is still true. Maybe they should spend a year abroad “studying” in Venezuela to get a better understanding of glorious socialism. And, limit each student to no more than 6 pairs of shoes.

    • I can’t believe this shit still happens. This is why my wife told her alma mater (small, private Midwestern college) that she would no longer support them financially (her benevolence courtesy of Capitalism) to offer a forum for those who hate… Capitalism.

      Screw that. If these colleges are so willing to embrace Marxism, let the Marxist “Gender Studies” and “Art History” grads write some checks.

  5. Fact is, if you’re in the very thick of it in Venezuela, who has the time to ponder physics? Only one thing matters: Getting rid of the Chavistas and with all the red shirts sold on having some little power in a hell hole. Hard to have much optimism when Maduro seems to be digging in even deeper. Pretty clear he/they won’t leave on their own, won’t negotiate, won’t let others assume power without trying to spark a civil war. That’s a lot of “won’ts” to deal with, and whatever’s going in Mexico, however great for those involved, might as well be happening on the moon.

    Them are the simple facts as I understand them, judging by conversation with family members in CCS. That all of them can somehow keep on is a testament to the human spirit.

  6. Hello! First of all, we want to apologize for the inconvenience when trying to make contributions.

    Now, those who wish to make a contribution can access this link: https://solidaridadlatina.com/en/projects/venezuela-en-el-mundial-de-robotica-first-global-challenge/

    Unfortunately, our website is currently not accepting contributions through PayPal because we’ve had problems with their platform. However, if you have a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club or JCB credit card, you can make your contributions! 🙂

  7. Ira si no tienes nada bueno que decir ahórrate los comentarios. El país está como está por personas que piensan como tú. Deja que la juventud enérgica e inteligente luche por sus sueños, que consoliden sus metas y construyan un mundo mejor. La situación del país no tiene que ser obstáculo para que ellos puedan desarrollar sus habilidades, destrezas y talentos y ser grandes profesionales, científicos, inventores y lo más importante grandes personas.

    • This is basically an English language website. Do you understand that little fact? So if you have nothing to comment in English, why don’t YOU stop our comments!?

      The last thing allowed here is censorship, which suggests you’re a fucking Chavista. How DARE you try to silence those with other/negative things to say about bullshit begging like this.

      Enjoy your Chavismo hell, Desi, because you DESERVE it!

      But I’m a nice guy:

      Garbage truck is arriving on your street at 7am tomorrow. Get there at 6am, go through the bags beforehand, and eat like a king!

      • Ira—my Spanish may be terrible but where do you get any message of censorship? Chill, it is not Desi’s fault the market hates Pres. Trump’s tariffs.

        Desi, no te preoccupies.

        • “Ira si no tienes nada bueno que decir ahórrate los comentarios.”

          Do you understand this, Waltz?

          “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

          It’s typically ignorant and intolerant Chavista bullshit. This is a “reformed” Chavista who’s hardly reformed.

          I mean, the fucking BALLS on this person insinuating that I’m supposed to talk “nice,” when kids are fucking dying!

          • You should probably consider talking “nice” about kids who are persevering to build a future for themselves amid the collapse of their homeland.

            Instead, you’re here telling them their endeavor is worthless and meaningless. Oh, and calling anyone who criticizes you a chavista, a pussy, or both. Physicial, heal thyself.

            In English or Spanish, Desi’s got the right of it.

          • Ira, you might want to check your ObamaCare health plan and see if it covers counseling for intolerance, anger-management, and alcohol-abuse.

  8. Ira:
    These young Venezuelan people deserve to have the possibility to set their own goals and to achieve their objectives. They are not responsible for the situation in the country, and your comments are only the stumbling blocks and obstacles to their dreams which they would like to turn to realty. Their attitude can encourage and motivate other young people to continue having dreams and goals in which nothing and nobody could stop them. Lack of initiative or simply observing the calamity of the country does not solve anything.

    • For guapetones de cyber like Ira, Poeta, et al, Venezuelans (other than their own families, of course) are only good for cannon fodder. They get excited at the possibility of a civil war, because to them, getting the chavistas out RIGHT NOW is worth any number of lives. Not theirs, or their families’, naturally.

      It makes you wonder why they’re so against chavismo, they’re just as bloodthirsty as them.

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