Cambodian scholar travels from Siem Reap rice fields to Russian robot school

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Voeurn Yong Ann, a student from the remote Srei Snam district of Siem Reap province has always been fascinated by robotics. Despite the unavailability of courses on the subject here in Cambodia, he has never compromised or given up on his dreams.

“After I graduated from high school in Siem Reap, I came to study in Phnom Penh at the Cambodia Institute of Technology. In addition to learning through school programs, I always made sure to spend time researching electronics and robot creation online, ”says Yong Ann.

Instead, he turned his dream into reality by taking action and working hard. He was able to get a scholarship to Innopolis University in Russia to study mechatronics. The university is located directly east of Moscow, near the city of Kazan on the Volga River, but it takes 11 hours by car to get there from the Russian capital.

“In Cambodia, this major is not yet available. But one day I came across a scholarship offered in Russia in the field of mechatronics by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, ”the 26-year-old graduate student told The Post.

Mechatronics or mechatronics engineering is an interdisciplinary branch of mechanical engineering that focuses on the integration of mechanical, electronic, and electrical engineering systems – the exact kind of advanced technological knowledge and skills required to create robots.

“The major combines all of my favorite subjects – mainly mechanics, electronics and computer programming. I thought this combination of knowledge had huge potential to help develop Cambodia’s tech sector. And so after passing the scholarship exam, I finally came to Russia in 2014, ”he says.

Living the life of a foreign student in Russia was not easy at first. He says he has struggled to adapt to the freezing cold weather that drags on for eight months of the year and is totally the opposite of Cambodia’s perpetually hot and humid climate.

There were also financial difficulties. The monthly allowance he receives from both Russia and Cambodia scholarship is so low that his parents have to send him extra money every now and then.

However, even with these difficult aspects, Yong Ann says his experience as a student has been an incredible adventure and he says that any Cambodian student with a similar opportunity should not hesitate to take it.

Voeurn Yong Ann was awarded a scholarship to study mechatronics at Innopolis University in Russia. Photo provided

“My student life in Russia is amazing. I really enjoyed every minute of my years here. I love to travel to different parts of this country, discover their culture and read their amazing literature and novels. Life here means a lot to me with tons of unforgettable memories and friends. Russia has given me not only university degrees on paper, but a fulfilling life in itself, ”says Yong Ann.

In what seemed like a blink of an eye to Yong Ann, seven years went by and he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Innopolis, an institution specializing in education, research and development in technology in the world. information and robotics.

Adding even more to these achievements, he has now won a scholarship to pursue a doctorate in medical robotics from a university in South Korea, in the hope that after graduation he can share his knowledge at home and help to create or implement the use of robotics for medical purposes in Cambodia.

After being admitted to a robotics doctoral program in South Korea, Yong Ann will start working on her doctorate this fall on September 1 and plans to spend the next four years there studying and working as a graduate student. .

As a doctoral candidate, he will likely teach undergraduate courses or participate in research while pursuing his own studies while gradually composing his robotics-related thesis with an emphasis on medical technology.

Yong Ann says that previously he had not considered studying medical technology and was always more interested in developing algorithms for motion generation and control for autonomous robots with particular emphasis on industrial robotics and robots with locomotion similar to that of humans or animals.

“However, during my master’s studies, I participated in research on mathematical models for legged robots. This research turned out to have many links with the use of robots in medicine and it showed me that I could expand my research to develop robots and devices that could help many people with illnesses or injuries.

“This is the main reason why I decided to choose medical robotics as my doctoral subject – the results of the research will have a direct impact on helping others,” he says.

Yong Ann says he still has four long years of hard work ahead of him and medical robotics is a very difficult area in robotics as it requires a lot of funding to support research as it deals with some of the most popular technologies. more advanced. equipment on the planet.

He says that in the four years it will take him to earn his doctorate, he expects to be involved only in medical robotics research, as it would take years to create a functioning medical robot. team of engineers, scientists and doctors to complete a working prototype for testing. and then it might be five to ten years after that before it could be used in hospitals.

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Yong Ann with Russian cosmonaut Sergey Revin. Photo provided

Yong Ann says that in order to be able to contribute significantly to research in his chosen field, he will need to acquire a lot more medical knowledge and understanding so that he can then adapt his technical skills and then try to combine them with both in robotic creation with medical applications.

Although he is still in the early stages of reflection and research proposals, he already has two areas of research in mind that he plans to pursue.

“The first one that interests me is research on the application of robotics and AI to assist surgical procedures. The second area is that I want to apply robotic leg locomotion technology to create a portable device to help patients with broken legs recover or to help those who are disabled, ”he says.

Yong Ann loves Russia and relocating to a new country again will be a challenge, but he is optimistic about the move and sees it as an adventure.

“I love Korean culture, food and history. But in reality, it’s about continuing my doctorate and it’s less about the country itself and more about the research programs and the university, ”he says.

The university he was admitted to in South Korea offers a multidisciplinary program perfect for its goal of applying robotics to medicine with world-class research programs that cooperate internationally with other universities in foreground.

After getting his doctorate in South Korea in four years, Yong Ann already has some ideas on what he will do next.

“I plan to pursue a research career in the field of medical robotics. Apart from that, I want to share my knowledge and contribute to human resource development in robotics sector in Cambodia.

“Eventually, after completing my educational journey, I will go home and hope to use my knowledge in advanced technology and help Cambodia’s health systems use new technologies,” he says.

Yong Ann says he would really like to encourage Cambodians to study robotics and technology or pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers in general.

“It’s a lot of fun to learn. It also has enormous potential to help develop our country in many sectors, from agriculture to manufacturing to medicine.

“What I really want to share with people is that if you dream big and work hard for it, you will thrive. No matter how big the dream is or how uncertain the road ahead, you will find your way if you continue your journey and start walking in the right direction, ”advises Yong Ann.


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