HKUST Underwater Robot Competition Promotes STEAM Education and Social Inclusion among 600 Students and Teachers

Over 600 students and teachers from 86 primary and secondary schools have a chance to boost their robotics knowledge while embracing cross-school teamwork and diversity in the Underwater Robot Competition 2023, which is one of the main activities under the HSBC / HKUST Robotics For Youths Programme.

Launched in 2015, the annual contest hosted by the Center for Global and Community Engagement under the School of Engineering aims to provide experiential learning in iSTEAM (inclusion, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education through robotics. It empowers HKUST undergraduates across disciplines to lead Primary 4 to Secondary 3 participants from diverse backgrounds, including the underprivileged, ethnic minorities, and students with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities, as well as their teachers to experience the fun of building underwater robots in hands-on activities. Teachers who do not have robotics knowledge or a science background are also welcome to join.

The 2023 program, which ran from December 2022 to June 2023, was well received and attended by a record number of 86 primary and secondary schools. Each school sent a four or five-student team to join, involving students of different backgrounds and abilities, along with two teachers. The program also engaged more than 50 HKUST undergraduates to contribute in various capacities.

In April, participants first acquired basic knowledge of underwater robot design and control through a training workshop, followed by a qualifier where 30 teams were shortlisted and advanced to the final. During the final in mid-May, the qualified teams did not only take part in inter-school competition, but also in joint school competition where three teams (comprising both primary and secondary school teams) work together to undertake a series of missions. The joint school competition session, which has become a special feature of the program, tested students’ ability to work and communicate with new teammates actively. The three school teams which demonstrated the best collaboration with each other were awarded the Best Joint School Inclusion Award.

The program concluded with an award presentation ceremony on June 3 that drew 140 participants. The winners of the competition are as follows:

Champion Kowloon Bay St. John The Baptist Catholic Primary School
Second Runner-up Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School
First Runner-up Carmel Pak U Secondary School
Best Engineering Award Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School
Best Artistic Award SKH Kei Tak Primary School
Best Teamwork Award Clearwater Bay School
Best Joint School Inclusion Award N.T. Heung Yee Kuk Yuen Long District Secondary School
Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong
Fung Kai Liu Yun Sum Memorial School


To further recognize participants’ effort, achievement levels of gold, silver, bronze, and merit were awarded to 10, 11, 6 and 3 teams respectively. Overall the teams performed well, with five teams scoring full marks even though the tasks were more challenging this year.

Prof. Jimmy FUNG, HKUST Associate Provost (Teaching & Learning), delivered opening remarks at the ceremony. He said HKUST was honored to have the support of The Hongkong Bank Foundation who shared the University’s passion for promoting iSTEAM education and nurturing young talents in the field of robotics. “The Underwater Robot Competition is a testament to our commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society where every student, regardless of their background, has the chance to discover their talent and reach their full potential. Through this meaningful project, we hope to engage more students and community members to foster a sense of cooperation, empathy and respect,” he added.

Dr. Roy CHUNG, Founder and Chairman of the Bright Future Charitable Foundation, said he was glad to see that the competition, now in its eighth edition, returned to its full scale and normalcy after few years of disruption due to the pandemic. He stressed that the importance of STEM knowledge not only lay in providing us the necessary skills to drive technological innovation, but also in training our problem-solving – which is a critical lifelong skill for young people no matter they will pursue engineering or not. He hoped that the competition would strengthen students’ STEM knowledge base and inspire them to become scientists or engineers to contribute to the future society, and concluded by wishing all “a bright future in your career and life”, as stated in the name of his charitable foundation.

Prof. Tim WOO, Director of the Center for Global and Community Engagement (GCE), School of Engineering, HKUST, expressed his gratitude to all the parties involved to make the competition a great success. He asked the young students to be thankful and to appreciate the efforts of their teammates and teachers – as he believed gratitude and appreciation were the most important part of whole program. He also encouraged the students to share their experience and inspiration with their schoolmates and others who do not yet participate in the competition.

To provide further encouragement, he asked the students to “believe in yourself” and embrace failure as part of the learning process, citing the GCE team’s own experience in innovating new ways to deliver experiential learning programs to young students when the city was hard-hit by COVID-19. The Underwater Robot Competition was cancelled for one year (2020) due to the pandemic. Yet with the belief that “challenges mean opportunities to break through”, the GCE team managed to host various online and physical workshops, as well as produce a number of videos teaching robotics in 2020 and 2021.

To add more fun to the day, a STEAM Festival featuring augmented reality (AR) and Micro:bit workshops and robot demonstration was held in the morning for the competition participants.

Specially tailored for teachers, the AR workshop introduced to educators how AR helped students learn better. The workshop was conducted by Jungjin PARK, PhD student of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, also Co-founder of an AR start-up in Hong Kong.

The Micro:bit workshop, conducted by HKUST students, taught primary and secondary school students to build and program a robot.

The robot demo showcased a number of award-winning robots from the Intelligent Racing Team, which is a sub-team of the HKUST Robotics Team and gained eight medals from RoboGames 2023 in California, US in April 2023.

During the workshop in April, participants had a taste of driving an underwater robot to complete simple tasks.
During the workshop in April, participants had a taste of driving an underwater robot to complete simple tasks.
The joint school competition in the final provided a good opportunity for students to engage in cross-school collaboration by grouping three school teams to work together to complete a series of missions.
The joint school competition in the final provided a good opportunity for students to engage in cross-school collaboration by grouping three school teams to work together to complete a series of missions.
HKUST Associate Provost (Teaching & Learning) Prof. Jimmy Fung (center), Dr. Roy Chung, Founder and Chairman of the Bright Future Charitable Foundation (fifth right), Prof. Tim Woo, Director of the Center for Global and Community Engagement, School of Engineering, HKUST (fourth left), HKUST Dean of Engineering Prof. Hong K. Lo (fifth left), Ms. Bonnie Yip, Senior Corporate Sustainability Manager, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (second right), Ms. Rebecca Lee, Administration Director o
HKUST Associate Provost (Teaching & Learning) Prof. Jimmy Fung (center), Dr. Roy Chung, Founder and Chairman of the Bright Future Charitable Foundation (fifth right), Prof. Tim Woo, Director of the Center for Global and Community Engagement, School of Engineering, HKUST (fourth left), HKUST Dean of Engineering Prof. Hong K. Lo (fifth left), Ms. Bonnie Yip, Senior Corporate Sustainability Manager, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (second right), Ms. Rebecca Lee, Administration Director of the Bright Future Charitable Foundation (third right), Mr. Geddy Lee, Chairman, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Hong Kong (third left), Prof. Tsui Chi-Ying, Director of the HKUST Academy for Bright Future Young Engineers (fourth right), Prof. Ben Chan, Director of the Center for Engineering Education Innovation, School of Engineering, HKUST (second left), Prof. Andrew Poon, Head of the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, HKUST (first left), and Ms. Maewoon Liu, Head of
Teachers experienced the use of AR to improve student learning at the workshop.
Teachers experienced the use of AR to improve student learning at the workshop.
Students learned to program a robot using Micro:bit.
Students learned to program a robot using Micro:bit.
Students tested their Micro:bit robot to transport props in a designated route.
Students tested their Micro:bit robot to transport props in a designated route.
The Intelligent Racing Team demonstrated their award-winning robots.
The Intelligent Racing Team demonstrated their award-winning robots.
The championship went to Kowloon Bay St. John The Baptist Catholic Primary School.
The championship went to Kowloon Bay St. John The Baptist Catholic Primary School.
Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School won the First Runner-up and Best Engineering Award.
Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School won the First Runner-up and Best Engineering Award.
Carmel Pak U Secondary School was the Second Runner-up.
Carmel Pak U Secondary School was the Second Runner-up.
Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School won the First Runner-up and Best Engineering Award.
Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School won the First Runner-up and Best Engineering Award.
SKH Kei Tak Primary School won the Best Artistic Award.
SKH Kei Tak Primary School won the Best Artistic Award.
Clearwater Bay School received the Best Teamwork Award.
Clearwater Bay School received the Best Teamwork Award.
The Best Joint School Inclusion Award went to N.T. Heung Yee Kuk Yuen Long District Secondary School, Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong, and Fung Kai Liu Yun Sum Memorial School.
The Best Joint School Inclusion Award went to N.T. Heung Yee Kuk Yuen Long District Secondary School, Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong, and Fung Kai Liu Yun Sum Memorial School.
Students designed their robots using different materials in the final competition in May.
Students designed their robots using different materials in the final competition in May.
The underwater robot was manually controlled by a team to complete various underwater missions.
The underwater robot was manually controlled by a team to complete various underwater missions.
Participants assembled the underwater robot at the final competition. All materials were provided by HKUST and the teams had to build the robot on-site with no prior preparation.
Participants assembled the underwater robot at the final competition. All materials were provided by HKUST and the teams had to build the robot on-site with no prior preparation.

About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (https://hkust.edu.hk/) is a world-class research intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science.  HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking.  Over 80% of our research work were rated “Internationally excellent” or “world leading” in the Research Assessment Exercise 2020 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee. We were ranked 3rd in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2022, and our graduates were ranked 23rd worldwide and among the best from universities from Asia in Global Employability University Ranking and Survey 2021.

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