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Robotics presentation impresses students, officials

A PRESENTATION on robotics at Fiesta Resort, Tuesday, impressed students and government officials interviewed by Variety.

York Exponential CEO John McElligott demonstrated the use of a robotic arm as he discussed the future of robotics and its workforce applications at the Innovation Summit hosted by the Commonwealth Development Authority and the Department of Commerce.

Eighth grader Bianca Zapanta, 14, found robotics very interesting, saying she wants to learn more while Maritoni Fernandez, 13, said she was fascinated with the idea of having robots on island, and is excited about the possibility of its happening in the coming years.

Katy Deleon Guerrero, 13, said the robotic arm is “cool,” and that she has never seen anything like it before.

Tayna Nakayama is hoping to learn more about robotics which she believes can lead to a better future for the islands.

Catherine Cabrera, an 8th grade teacher at Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, said the presentation is timely.

“As the presentor said, society is now based on technology and it’s still evolving rapidly. What we are doing is preparing our kids for the future while encouraging them to reflect and to think about what they can do to help their community,” she added.

She said they are teaching robotics in the classroom, and students are learning how robots are built.

“The next thing we will do is tap into programming so they can create a machine and a program that can run it.”

CDA Executive Director Manny Sablan said a robotic workforce is something that the CNMI should explore and consider. “It is always good to have options and this is another option — something to look forward to,” he added.

House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez said: “I think it’s a good idea to have options and another industry that we could set up here…. Change is happening and the CNMI should also get on board.”

Dave Maratita, Department of Commerce-Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco Control Division director, said the presentation was about “something that can affect people’s daily lives.”

He added, “We don’t want to be left behind when it comes to new technology, so we’re happy to bring Mr. McElligott here to talk about a particular new technology. We actually have a school here that is already teaching artificial intelligence so this presentation will further educate the students about robotic technology.”

The presentation by McElligott, who is from York City, Pennsylvania, was made possible by CDA loan officer Oscar Camacho and Department of Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman.

According to McElligott, York City and the CNMI are facing the same challenge: an inadequate workforce.

“I’ve been travelling to different communities in the United States who also have the same struggle. A lot of the communities in the United States are into manufacturing, but those in the younger generations aren’t interested in performing those jobs. Manufacturing is going to sink if we don’t act, but we cannot do it alone — we need sister cities so we can do it together.”

McElligott said York City is already moving forward with robotic technology.

As for the CNMI, he said: “We’re learning a lot about the issues here as we try to figure out what might fit the islands. We want to have a relationship with the CNMI, but at the same time we are still trying to determine if the technology can work here. I don’t want to rush the community — I want them to understand robotics first because not everyone gets excited about it. Some are scared so I want to make sure that we’re heading in the same direction. We still have to learn a lot about the issues here and the community itself before we can move forward. Education and public awareness are very important and must be done first.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/100679-robotics-presentation-impresses-students-officials

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