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Meet 14-year-old Anjola, one of the geniuses who engineered Kiki the Robot


Meet 14-year-old Anjola, one of the geniuses who engineered Kiki the Robot

Fourteen-year-old Fajimi Anjolaoluwa Olajumoke is one of the eight students at the Federal Government Girls College Shagamu, Ogun State, who recently inspired Nigerians after building a humanoid robot.

In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE-KORIEOCHA, she speaks about the journey to creating the robot, the challenges encountered, and her expectations for the future.

Question: It took you and your team almost one year to build the six feet and 60-gram humanoid robot. Can you take us through the journey of making the humanoid robot? How did it start, who brought up the idea, and please share the process briefly with us?

Anjola: It all began when our principal, Olodo, was transferred to our school recently. She discovered that we weren’t participating in tech-related competitions and lacked a robotics center. She expressed her desire for us to build a humanoid that could welcome dignitaries to the school. But she wanted us to start by attending tech-related competitions, acquiring knowledge, and building confidence. She got us external trainers and mentors, both within and outside the country, with the support of our ICT teachers. We started meeting up in our computer lab until our robotics center was ready.

Question: How do you feel being part of the eight girls who invented this first-of-a-kind Robot in a secondary school?

Anjola: I feel privileged to be part of this team, and I hope that the knowledge I have gained while working with my team members to build the humanoid will help me in my future career.

Question: What role did teamwork with your colleagues help achieve this dream?

Anjola: Teamwork helped us gather ideas from one another, treated each other equally, and worked at a faster pace. If we were not working as a team, especially considering that some of us are non-science students, the project would have taken much longer. Lastly, it helped us reduce stress on team members.

Question: What were the major challenges you encountered in making this a reality?

Anjola: Our major challenge was time because we are boarding students. We had to balance studies with robotics, which was extracurricular for us. Another challenge was merging the hardware and software, especially for face recognition. Stabilizing the robot’s feet to prevent it from falling over when moving was another significant challenge.

Question: How were you able to merge the camera and software together so the robot can recognize people and respond to questions?

Anjola: For recognition, we conducted extensive research to find programming languages that would work seamlessly with our software and camera. We sought advice from our mentors. To enable Kiki, the robot, to answer questions, we used a virtual assistant powered by Google.

Question: Can you list the things that the robot can do?

Anjola: Kiki can move forward, backward, sideways, and turn around. It can move its shoulders and its neck. It can answer global questions when asked and can recognize people’s faces after sufficient data has been inputted.

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Question: What was the role of your school, Federal Government Girls College, Shagamu, in making this a reality?

Anjola: The school played a significant role. They built our robotics center, equipped it with tools and everything needed, provided us with materials, instructors, mentors, food, security, and more.

Question: What really inspired you and your colleagues to do this, and what were the major driving forces behind this?

Anjola: The inspiration came from our principal, who made us believe that anything was possible if we believed in it and worked for it. The platform provided also inspired me to give my best. Additionally, the fascination of building a robot was a major motivator for all of us.

Question: Did you take robotic classes from school or other places before you made this invention?

Anjola: No, our major experience came from the competitions we participated in when the club started, which involved building smaller robots to perform specific tasks related to the competition.

Question: After this, what’s next for you? Do you hope to build a career around robotics?

Anjola: Yes, my hope for the future is a career in robotics engineering. That’s the main reason I joined the club – to gain basic experience and fundamental knowledge of robots.

Question: Did your childhood experiences or training at home in any way influence your choice of joining the robotics team and making this invention?

Anjola: Yes, to some extent. For me, it was primarily cartoons. As a child, I was fascinated by cartoons like “Science Max” with lots of explosions and scientific concepts. When I got to school and the robotics club started, it was like a dream come true. I joined to see where my fascination and interests would lead me, and from there, I decided I wanted to be a robotic engineer.

Question: Who funded this project? Was it the school, or did the school join funds with your parents to make this a reality?

Anjola: The school funded the project.

Question: What are your future aspirations after school?

Anjola: After secondary school, my aspiration is to study Robotics Engineering and continue taking online classes while engaging with my other teammates to explore the robotics world further.

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