“I have never traveled this far. Although one of my uncles has.” Less than one week away from the competition in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Álvaro, Juan, and Jacobo — three boys ages 12 and 13 — cannot contain their excitement while talking about their upcoming adventure.
Even their parents are surprised that they were able to get through to the World Robot Olympiad in Thailand. “I would see them with the robot, but I didn’t understand what they were doing,” says Jacobo’s father. They also didn’t expect to get the money to pay for the trip to go there. “You win, but the organization does not pay for anything. Not the flights or hotels, nothing… You reach the finals, but you cannot attend,” confesses Ángel Fernández, their robotics professor and coach. The student-parent association and the school itself began to knock on doors and make some calls. “A lot of people showed interest and support, but nobody would make a concrete offer,” says Juan’s mother.
Word of Ga-Legos’ (the name of the team of these three robotics enthusiasts) achievement and their inability to attend the finals made it to the local newspaper. That is when Repsol saw their story and got in touch with them. “Innovation and technology are the foundations of the Repsol model and the future of the company,” says Javier Sancho, Director of the A Coruña Refinery. Repsol looks to support training in the areas where it operates to increase young people’s interest in science. Helping these students is a way to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) among young children.
“We were surprised by Repsol’s offer. Their dream was now possible,” says Antonio Corrochano, president of the student-parent association.
Repsol, the parents, and the school joined forces to organize the trips and accommodation. They also worked together to find the best way for Dr. Octopus (the name of the robot behind this adventure) to arrive at its destination without suffering any damage.
The Robot Olympiads will take place from November 16th through 18th, but for all of those involved, it feels like the hardest part is already over. Their dream has come true. #GoodLuckGaLegos