EUGENE ZHANG, Managing Director of SEMIA LTD is helping children explore their creative potential with LEGO robots and lots of encouragement.

In 1998, LEGO Education launched the world-famous Mindstorm robots for education, enabling children to build fantastic LEGO robots using their imagination, and make them come to life with robot controllers, electronic sensors, and motors.

Founder of Semia, Eugene Zhang was the branch manager at National Instruments(NI) Hong Kong, and LEGO Education approached NI since NI provided the graphical software environment that allowed children to easily program the robot.

“So, thrilled with the vast potential of robotics education, Zhang founded Semia in 2000 to work with LEGO Education in Hong Kong and China. We took the word Semilla from Spanish meaning seed, and turned in into Semia and adopted the Chinese word 西觅亚. The company name reflects our mission, which is to devote ourselves to education, in particular, to bring the best education practices from the West and Asia together, and nurture the creativity and innovative capabilities of our children,” says Zhang.

Inspiring China

In early 2000, the Chinese government already coined the phrase “quality education”, 素质教育, but speaking to teachers and educators, no one really knew how to incorporate “quality education” — the education that builds communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving skills and creative thinking skills into the textbook-based, exam-oriented Instruction-Based education system.

When Semia introduced LEGO robotics to the Chinese government officials and teachers, they were very excited, they can see students engaged in building their own robotics, solving problems together, learning with their hands and minds together, it was exactly the exciting learning environment they wanted to nurture, — “Constructive Learning” advocated by famous scientist Piaget. Thus, with the support of Henry Ying Tung Fok Foundation (霍英东基 金会) Chinese government organized its first China Youth Robotics Competition in Nansha, Guangdong China in 2000. The first year 12 provinces in China participated in the competition of 2001, 25 provinces participated, and in 2002, all of Chinese provinces sent representative teams to Robotics Competition.

“Semia continues to play an important role in robotics education over the last 15 years, we continue to provide students in China and Hong Kong with more opportunities to participate in robotics competitions. We are the FIRST and World Robot Olympiad organizer for China and Hong Kong, we continue to develop robotics curriculums in China, and now in Boston USA to help teachers and students, and we continue to partner with LEGO Education to promote LEGO Mindstorms and other LEGO Education materials. We also help design and manufacture a metal robotics system called Matrix, and are now looking to cooperate with Kinderlabs in America to bring robotics to kindergarten children in the form of a new product called KIBO.”

Quality First

Semia partners with the world-class programs like FIRST and WRO to bring the highest international standards to robotics events. For Example, FIRST is an non-profit based in USA and is founded by the inventor Dean Kamen. It stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technololgy. Its four programs namely FIRST LEGO League Junior, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics are supported by hundreds of high profile companies like Qualcomm, Boeing, Apple, Fedex, US Government, NASA, and millions of dollars of scholarships are offered to FIRST students by over 300 universities around the world. In Hong Kong the FIRST LEGO League is organized by Hong Kong Youth Federation, Poly U, and Semia has been a proud sponsor for over 10 years.

Semia offers value from quality products and quality experience, as well as training and support to make the whole education learning experience unforgettable.

“As the world changes from an Information Society to a Creative Society, we at Semia feel very fortunate to be able to preparing the youngsters for the challenges of the future. We are lucky to set our mission in education, 创新教育 – Creative Education in particular, a noble mission that is above and beyond traditional business objectives. It is this mission that brings all the 200 Semia staff together, many of whom have worked with us over 10 years; it is this mission that drives us to continue to refine and make our work better, and it is this mission that give us strength to overcome any challenges that may be presented in front of us, we know we shall prevail,” concludes Zhang.

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