FSU World ORT Students Prepare for International Robotics Competition

by Abigail Pickus

Six schools from the World ORT network in the former Soviet Union (FSU) are preparing to send a team of students to Israel to participate in an international robotics competition at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

While ORT schools have participated in the prestigious competition in the past, this year Luxoft, the largest Eastern Europe software developer, has agreed to sponsor their teams by sending 2 students and a teacher from each participating school. The students are in junior high or high school.

“This is a wonderful opportunity,” said Misha Libkin, Director of Development for ORT Russia. “It’s very interesting for the students. We teach robotics in all of our schools and with this competition, it gives them the motivation to produce the best results.” The March 15th competition is serious business. Six months before, the students are sent a kit with the competition’s rules and requirements, which includes building a car robot that can be programmed to obey traffic lights, rules of the road and more. The objective is to provide early education in traffic laws and to create ways to make the road “smarter” and safer to reduce high accident rates among youngsters.

The fact that Luxoft has agreed to send ORT students to the competition is also a coup for the ORT network, whose vocational schools produce some of the top students in the country who go on to prestigious universities and influential technological careers, according to Libkin.

The ORT school network in the FSU consists of 17 schools, all of which incorporate Jewish studies into their curriculum. While it is against the law for schools in the FSU to disciminate by religion, most of the students are Jewish, according to Libkin.

photos courtesy Misha Libkin