Middlesex University had a good showing at the WorldSkills 2011 event in London's ExCel Centre. Not only did two of our students finish in the top ten in one of the skills competitions, but our popular “have a go” robotics area also impressed the Prime Minister.
Middlesex students and staff were running the robotics area during the four days of the tournament and were on hand to give the public an insight into robots.
David Cameron, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Skills Minister John Hayes spoke to the students from Middlesex. The PM even “had a go” at controlling the robots.
“The Middlesex robotics area was very successful. We were inundated from day one, when the primary school children came and tried out the robots,” said Mehmet Karamanoglu, Head of Product Design and Engineering at Middlesex.
“We also had secondary school students and then families over the weekend. The twelve Middlesex students and staff manning the area were kept very busy. It was one of the popular stalls,” he added.
The PM also spoke to Middlesex’s very own Darren Lewis and Puja Varsani, who were representing Team UK in the mobile robotics category. The pair did very well, finishing tenth in their field.
“We’re not totally happy because a technical glitch – which was out of our control - caused us to lose some points. But that’s just the way things are sometimes and getting this far has been an achievement for us,” said Darren Lewis.
“Overall we’re very happy. It’s been an amazing experience because we’ve learnt a lot of new skills, which will be useful for us in the future,” added the Product Design student.
Mehmet Karamanoglu said Middlesex is really proud of what the pair have achieved: “The points difference in the top ten was quite close. So they feel it would have been nice to get a medal, but we think what they've achieved is fantastic already.
“They are not robotics specialist; they are students who know how to solve problems and work with technology. But they were competing, equally, with robotics professionals. We were the only university in the country to have a team representing the UK at WorldSkills. So in that context, they’ve done amazingly well and the staff and students at Middlesex are extremely proud of them.”
The Middlesex pair were trained and supported by their tutor Dr Alex Zivanovic over the past two years leading up to the WorldSkills competition. As part of team of experts from around the world, Alex served as the mobile robotics expert for the UK team.