12 November 2018  |  Twelve-year-old Jacob Sibanda, who attends Sheffield Manor Newstart Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sheffield Manor, England, is set to make history as one of the talented children who will be flying off to Shanghai this month to represent the United Kingdom (UK) in the World Educational Robotics (WER) championship.

Jacob, with two other home-schooled children, designed, built and programmed robot IL4A0095 and so impressed the judges at the WER finals held at the University of Sheffield in July that he secured a sought-after place in the WER international championship. They will be the UK’s first ever representatives and will be competing against teams from 50 other countries. They attend a science class at the Kelham Island Museum sponsored by Discovery STEM Education, a non-profit organization in Sheffield, run by Dr. Melissa Butt.

His parents, Lungani and JoAnne Sibanda, and grandmother will be accompanying Jacob on his trip. Sibanda told the North England Conference communication director, “We are very excited for our little boy. Jacob has always been very methodical and focused. As a home-schooled child nothing is beyond him. He has raised his own money by baking cakes and selling them at church. He has also received a lot of support from the members of the Sheffield churches. He is currently learning Mandarin in preparation for his trip and he is grateful that God has given him this opportunity. We don’t know where this will lead him, but we are definitely trusting God.”

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is sponsoring the team to make the dream trip possible, but the parents still require additional financial support to help make the trip a success for all the families. In addition to Jacob, the other children in the team include Alex O’Carroll, Allen Yang, Sofia Armitage, all seven-years-old, and Kirin Harrington, age 11.

The children were given the good news at the AMRC’s flagship Factory 2050 facility, home to the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG). Ben Morgan, head of IMG, welcomed the children to the factory, telling them they are “the engineers of the future” and that their interest in robotics is inspirational.

Morgan said the AMRC has been following their story closely and wanted to help them with their quest to reach Shanghai. “You will be ambassadors in China for the Sheffield City Region, spreading the word that this is the place to come for engineering and industrial digital technology. We’re delighted to be able to sponsor such a talented team of young people from the region’s schools, and to show the world that engineering and our region has a very bright future if we work together. The team at the AMRC and the University of Sheffield, and I think the whole of Sheffield and Yorkshire, wish you well and all the best in the competition and we’re sure you will have fun. We are doing our bit to help make that happen, it would fabulous if others could show their support too.”

The photo shows Ben Morgan standing next to Jacob Sibanda with the rest of the team.

This story is based on a news release from the Adventist denomination’s British Union Conference.


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