WRO Panama gains government support

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The first lady of Panama heard about World Robot Olympiad and contacted national organizer Marvin Castillo to know more. Now Panama’s government wants to host an international final.

Marvin Castillo, standing to the far left in the picture above, is a happy man. During the past months the executive director at FUNDESTEAM and national organizer of WRO Panama has gained the support of the government, as both President Laurentino Cortizo and the first lady are big STEM advocates. Marvin Castillo says:

“The first lady was impressed and decided to become a WRO Ambassador. The President visited our national final and during his speech he announced, that the government is interested in hosting the international final 2023.”

The support is in itself of great value to Marvin Castillo and his team. But the presidential pledge also means more press coverage than ever before, and Marvin Castillo hopes to leverage it to fulfill one of WRO Panama’s greatest wishes: to create a national STEAM policy.

Shared goals

The government sent several officials to the international final in Hungary this autumn. One of them was Sarina Sitton (in the center of the picture), Director of Social Development, Presidency of Panama, First Lady office. Her objective was to observe and get inspiration for events in Panama, and to report back to the government. Sarina Sitton expected a big event, but was still surprised by the number of people attending. It also amazed her how students could work on their robot all day and have fun with it. She says:

“This is what we need to increase focus on robotics and STEAM in Panama. We want our students to meet and be inspired by youth from all over the world – changing their view on STEAM is the first step towards change in our part of the world, so we can be on the same level as countries in Europe.”

University representative impressed 

Also part of the Panama delegation was Humberto Rodriguez, Director of Fab Lab, University Tecnologica de Panama and last man on the right in the picture. He also wanted to get a feeling for the event. The Fab Lab Director has great expectations regarding WRO in Panama, and sees the importance of youth having access to such events to get acquainted with STEM. He says:

“These competitions teach participants leadership, self-learning, teamwork and discipline. I’m impressed with their accomplishments. Panama needs something like this to make our college students interested in tech and science. We will present the project to the President, but I am confident he will fully support it.”

Marvin Castillo works with the government and University Tecnologica de Panama to make hosting in 2023 happen. Next step for the new collaborators is planning an invitational in 2021.