The School-based Mechatronics, Autonomous Robotics & Research Tournament (SMARRT) will be held on June 17 at the NCCC Mall Activity Center as part of the 2024 Baragatan Festival activities.

A representative from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the province noted several activities from the past few months that boded well for the future of technological competence in Palaweño students.

Phyllicia Baguyo, a senior science specialist II at DOST Palawan, stated that their office has conducted multiple robotics training sessions in Apurawan, Aborlan, and the municipality of Quezon.

“Meron na tayong nagcha-champion diyan, para ikalat ang robotics training sa areas na iyon. Tinitrain sila paano i-assemble yun, yung mechanism noon, and then paano mag-basic programming para mapalaganap yung program,” Baguyo noted.

(We already have champions there to spread robotics training in those areas. (…) They’re being trained on how to assemble, what is the mechanism, and then how to make basic programming to develop the program.)

The robotics training takes place within the classroom setting, as the provincial office of the DOST saw a growing number of students who displayed interest and proficiency in programming over time.

DOST Palawan started these trainings in January and has logged more than 300 participants since then.

They noted that these projects aimed to capacitate the youth in areas around Palawan, particularly training them in basic technologies, such as programming sumobots (fighting robots programmed to throw or push each other out of a “ring”), Arduino boards, and using 3D printers.

Student innovation in technology
Baguyo noticed that students were easily fascinated by robotics programming and wanted to see how they would fare in the province-wide competition. Robotics is one of the areas that DOST Palawan wants to develop further in school curricula as well, seeing potential in the fast-learning students.

“May mga sinasali na tayo internationally na students sa innovation nila. Isa din ito, natulungan din natin sa [Roxas National Comprehensive High School], yung hydroponics at aquaphonics nila na nilaban sa Malaysia at nag-champion. May mga ganoon na instances, at marami pa kasi marami tayong high schools dito na interested sa robotics,” Baguyo said.

(We have students who have joined internationally for their innovations. We’ve helped the Roxas National Comprehensive High School on their hydroponics and aquaponics, which we brought to compete in Malaysia and they won as champion. There were instances like that, and there will be more because we have a lot of high schools here that are interested in robotics.)

In addition, she mentioned that the DOST has identified opportunities for business development. This was evident during the University Incubator Consortium held on May 27, where students from Palawan State University emerged victorious in a technology-focused startup competition, surpassing 16 other universities.

Baguyo described the technology as a food folio, which evaluates the suitability of food for individuals by considering factors such as allergies and Halal certification.

“Yung sa incubation program meron tayong tinutulungan na nasa loob ng [Palawan SU] Palawan International Technology Business Incubator, (…) from PSU yung nag-champion sa agrifood innovation vertical. Yung kanilang technology ay food folio—parang nagde-determine siya kung ano yung food na pwede sa tao, nade-determine kung may allergen yung food, kung Halal,” she said.

(For the incubation program, we are helping something that is inside the Palawan SU Palawan International Technology Business Incubator, (…) the champion was from Palawan SU and this is in the agrifood innovation vertical. Their technology is a food folio—it’s like it determines what kind of food can be eaten by humans, determines if the food has allergens, and if it’s Halal.)

“Meron din tayo na agri-aqua business incubator na naka-locate sa Western Philippines University sa Puerto Princesa campus. Yun naman ang kini-cater niya ay more on agriculture and aquaculture products—mga innovation na pwedeng i-commercialize,” she added.

(We also have an agri-aqua business incubator located at the Western Philippines University in the Puerto Princesa campus. What it caters to is more on agriculture and aquaculture products—innovations that can be commercialized.)