The code to success

Two Goan students have emerged as winners of the Codeavour 5.0 AI Robo City Challenge (Track 2) in Dubai. NT KURIOCITY gets details


Vedang Anay Kamat from Saraswat Vidyalaya and Usha Kumawat from The Progress High School, Panaji, recently excelled in the Codeavour 5.0 AI Robo City Challenge, competing against participants from over 60 countries.

While Vedang won in the junior category, Usha claimed victory in the senior category. Both teams received a trophy and a medal. Usha also won a trip to Mexico to attend the Innovation conference along with her mentor, Maya Kamat.

The duo is not part of any robotics team. Their journey to this accomplishment began at the Codeavour 5.0 Goa regional held at Saraswat Vidyalaya in March. Following this, Vedang secured the second rank in the junior category, and Usha the third rank in the senior category at the national event held at Alpine Convent School, Gurugram in April. Consequently, both became eligible to compete internationally, going on to win in their respective categories.


From local learner to global champion

A Class 4 Marathi medium student, Vedang’s interest in machines was sparked by observing his father’s programming work with Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

The youngster, mentored by his father Anay and his computer teacher Sanchita Nagvekar then began to participate at robotics competitions like the Showtime event at The Goa International Robotics Festival. In fact, a team from his school, Tech Infinity, had built a big robot for the FIRST Tech Challenge at this event. This fuelled his desire to build his own robot and compete in robotics competition leading to him registered for Track 2 of the Codeavour 5.0 Goa regionals.

With guidance from his father and training from Tanmay at STEMPedia, Vedang honed his skills in building and coding robots. Despite the short time between the training session and the competition, he dedicated himself to practice, with assistance from his mother Maya in developing strategies. “Aai helped me practice the day before the Goa regional event. She guided me and helped me become comfortable controlling the robot,” says Vedang.

Sharing more about the challenge for this competition, Vedang explains that the arena resembled a map of the city, with different regions connected by black lines. “There were 11 boxes at their respective pickup points, each representing an idea of how technology can help UN SDGs. The robot had to pick up each box and place it correctly in the drop area. If the robot performs the task autonomously, the contestant received double points,” he explains.

As he then moved on to the national event, he faced tougher competition. But with his father’s support, he worked on enhancing the autonomous mode of his robot. Although initially challenged by tricky controls and sensor calibration, his perseverance paid off as he secured second place.

To prepare for the international competition, he and his father made further modifications to his robot, including adding high-speed motors and a bigger battery.

But identifying the strategy to complete all 11 tasks within five minutes was his biggest challenge. “Calibrating the sensors accurately and quickly was also tricky, but Baba found a way to automate the process. With his guidance, I completed all 11 tasks autonomously,” he says.

Vedang now desires to expand his knowledge in coding and robotics by participating in competitions such as WRO, MakeX, FLL, and eventually Codeavour 6. “Such competitions provide an opportunity to showcase creativity and courage while learning from others and improving technological skills. When I see other children of my age building better robots, it motivates me to improve my skills. My ultimate goal is not only to learn how to build better robots but also to assist others in learning how to build robots as well,” he says, adding that other children should also explore the world of robotics and coding and participate in such competitions.


A rising star in robotics

A Class 9 student, Usha Kumawat’s journey into the world of robotics began during the COVID-19 pandemic when she was introduced to a new computer syllabus featuring Pictoblox. “Our computer teacher, Maya Kamat, taught this subject. It was a very interesting app that was operated by phone. I used to code with my father’s phone. Adding to that, last year, Maya teacher took us to a Robosparkle camp. We didn’t win there, but it got me interested in robotics,” she shares.

At Goa regionals, she explains that her teammate controlled the robot. “As we had less time for practice, our performance was not that great at regionals, but we got selected for Nationals. Here, I managed to complete a few tasks autonomously in less than a day, and the rest were done manually. In the end, we secured third rank in the senior category and secured our place at the international event,” she says.

The daughter of a tile fitter and a housewife, Usha’s journey to Dubai was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign that collected over one lakh rupees, with many Goans contributing.

Apart from this, Usha had just 20 days for practice. “I didn’t have a laptop, which was important to quickly code the autonomous way. But our MLA, Kedar Naik, donated a laptop, which helped me code to ensure that most of the tasks were completed autonomously. Saieesh Gandhi sir had helped me design the robot, which was quite fast as well,” she says.

Winning the international robotics competition is a proud moment for her and her family, and her teacher Maya.

Usha is now looking forward to learning more at the Innovation Conference in Mexico. “I want to study further and become a doctor. I learned the value of science, technology, commitment, strategies, and practice while participating in these events, which I’m sure will help me in my further studies,” she says, urging other youngsters to participate and learn AI Robotics.



Codeavour 5.0 honours Maya Kamat as Mentor of the Year

Maya Anay Kamat also won the special award ‘Champions Change Maker’ for Mentor of the Year at Codeavour 5.0. Maya mentored Usha for the competition and would organise full-day practices on Sundays, accompany Usha to various places, arrange all her certificates and communicate with passport officers. She also reached out to MLAs for the first time to seek funding for Usha and even started a crowdfunding initiative. Apart from this she directed Usha on strategy for the game, and ensured they kept the spirit to keep going. “This win has motivated me to work harder to get more students on an international platform,” says Maya.