At Ashesi University, High School Students Compete to Develop Pineapple-Harvesting Robots

The MasterCard Foundation and Ashesi promote STEM education in Africa through Robotics Competition
Aug 14, 2012 3:15 PM ET
Press Release

BEREKUSO, Ghana, Aug. 14, 2012 / 3BL Media / PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ashesi University College today announced the winners of its inaugural robotics competition - the Ashesi Robotics Experience (ARX).  The annual competition, implemented in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, aims to encourage greater interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among African high school students.  The competition was designed by Dr. Ayorkor Korasah, a former faculty member of Carnegie Mellon University and co-founder of the Africa Robotics Network.

"Infrastructure continues to be an enormous challenge across Africa," said Patrick Awuah, Founder and President of Ashesi University College.  "As a result, we believe it's critical that future engineers are educated using practical, hands-on methodologies.  The students that participated in ARX are a shining example of the energy and enthusiasm for STEM learning here in Africa."

The final competition challenged students to design prototype robots capable of harvesting pineapples, a popular crop farmed near the Ashesi campus.  The teams were divided into two groups – intermediate level, for those who had previous computer programming experience and novice, for those with no prior experience.  The four winning teams, comprised equally of young men and women, were culled from a field of 62 high school students from across Ghana.

Henrietta Gborgblorbu, a winner on the novice team from S.O.S Hermann Gmeiner High School said, "This week was totally beyond my expectations. The program really challenged us to solve problems and use our critical thinking skills. I didn't expect to be so excited about robotics.  I want to start a robotics club at my high school." 

The MasterCard Foundation's support of ARX reflects its focus on enabling young people in developing countries – particularly in Africa – to access quality and relevant education, and develop market-relevant skills to successfully transition into the workforce.  ARX is part of a nine-year, $13 million partnership between Ashesi and The MasterCard Foundation, which will enable 200 academically talented, yet financially disadvantaged students from Africa to complete their studies at Ashesi.

"ARX is developing a community of talented secondary school students who are excited about the possibilities of robotics in Africa," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "The competition encourages young people to develop skills needed to participate in the technology revolution taking place across the continent."

Visit for more information about ARX, profiles of participating faculty, students and winning teams, and details of the 2012 programme. Pictures of this year's competition can be accessed on Ashesi's Facebook page at

About Ashesi University College

Ashesi is a world-class university in Ghana that is educating a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders for Africa.  Ashesi offers bachelor degree programs in Computer Science, Management Information Systems and Business Administration, with a Liberal Arts core curriculum. From a small class of 30 students, the University's student population has grown to over 500, with an alumni membership of over 400.  Ashesi's mission is to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within its students the critical thinking skills, concern for others, and courage it will take to transform their continent.  For more information, visit

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity.  Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 countries, the Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper.  An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, it was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006. For more information, visit

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