Coach Michael returned to South Africa in 2000 after working for a software company in the USA where he was involved in preparing customers for the Y2K changeover. When he returned to South Africa he worked for an online learning start-up that was part of JSE-listed company Naspers. While he was in the USA he encountered exciting youth robotics, and decided he wanted to bring STEM robotics education back to South Africa on his return.

Back in South Africa, on a part time basis, he started experimenting with teaching teenagers about electronics at the Kids Haven shelter for homeless children in Benoni (a Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund charity).

A pilot robotics programme for the Gauteng Department of Education was held at Sci-Bono in Newtown, Johannesburg, in 2012 where teenagers built Coach Michael's robot. Two other pilot robotics programmes were held at private schools. In 2013 high school learners Dylan and Marco, trained by Michael in the private school programme, placed second in the world at the World Robotics Olympiad (WRO) Indonesia.

In 2014 University of Johannesburg invited Michael to bring the RobotScience project to UJ TechnoLab on Saturday mornings with a small grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation.

In 2015 he joined UJ TechnoLab on a full time basis, and he designed and launched the AfrikaBOT competition which was held in 2015-2016-2017.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017 Michael Ettershank was an organiser and trainer for the First Avenue Institute Girls Winter Camps, a June/July holiday experience for young black disadvantaged women to encourage them to consider a career in maths and science related fields.

In 2017 a leading Johannesburg private school St Davids Marist Brothers, Inanda, implemented robotics as an in-curriculum technology subject using the robot developed by Coach Michael, becoming the first school in South Africa to offer robotics in the classroom as opposed to the usual route of robotics as an extra-curricular activity.

In 2021 another leading private school, Bishops in Cape Town, selected Coach Michael's robot and training as the foundation of their STEM robotics programme because it is a world class solution that both excites and challenges the boys at the school.

In 2018 the "Fees Must Fall" forced University of Johannesburg pulled funding for the RobotScience project.

Coach Michael joined Paramount Group where he ran their Youth Development Robotics Programme and trained recently graduated engineers on how to prototype UAV parts using a CNC machine.

Coach Michael has written two world class practical textbooks on robotics, a practical textbook on building basic electronic circuits, and is currently busy with a textbook on aeronautics and flying radio control fixed wing model aircraft.

In 2023 Coach Michael joined Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, where he is busy rolling out training in electronics, robotics and coding, and will launch a new robotics competition for builders in the near future.

If you would like free advice on how your teenager can get involved in the wonderful world of robotics in South Africa and start building towards a career in engineering, please WhatsApp Michael on 082 962 2772 today.

Michael Ettershank graduated with a humanities degree from University of Witwatersrand (1987) and Rhodes University (1990) and likes to paint in his spare time.

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