Coach Michael returned to South Africa in 2000 after working for a software company in the USA where he was involved in preparing their customers for the Y2K changeover.

When he returned to South Africa he worked for an online learning start-up iStudy4.com's Online Classrom 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 prestigious South African 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 University of Johannesburg 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 underprivileged girls 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 boys at the school.

In 2018 the "Fees Must Fall" campaign forced University of Johannesburg to cancel the RobotScience project and the scratch built robotics competition and Coach Michael joined Paramount Group where he ran their Youth Development Robotics Programme. He was also involved in training recently graduated engineers hired by the company on designing and prototyping UAV parts using a state-of-the-art CNC machine.

Over the past 15+ years 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. Many of the youth who have participated in Coach Michael's training in the past have now graduated from their studies, and are working working in leading local and international engineering companies both locally and abroad.

In 2023 Coach Michael joined Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, where he is busy rolling out training programmes in electronics, robotics and coding, and will launch a new robotics competition for scratch 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, or book an online ZOOM session with Coach Michael, please WhatsApp "how can my child get involved in robotics" to 082 962 2772 without delay.

Michael Ettershank graduated with a humanities degree from University of Witwatersrand (1987) and Rhodes University (1990) and loves to paint when he can find the time.

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