Mohammed El Raffie established CORD to engage Egyptian youth in science and technological development. CORD’s flagship program is a series of robot building competitions which challenge students of all ages, from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds to build robots using affordable, widely available materials. CORD works more broadly to improve the field of scientific education by producing creative commercial products and developing practical learning curricula across Egypt and the Middle East. Mohammed was elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2012.
Mohammed seeks to bring science to life for young Egyptians because he believes such an experience will cultivate in them the self-confidence, creativity, resourcefulness, and teamwork desperately needed to drive a new Egypt. He teaches groups of young people to create a robot that moves, utilizing only the everyday materials littering their homes or communities, and very low cost store-bought items, if necessary. This model creates a leveling effect and welcomes the participation of all socio-economic classes. The competition’s “no-prior-knowledge-necessary” aspect further democratizes the opportunity.
Mohammed focuses on robots, in particular, recognizing that these complex, dynamic machines are often seen as the epitome of a sophisticated, scientific world unattainable to the average person. Once a young person builds simple model of such a machine and practices the basic concepts with nothing but the materials lying around him or her and a team of peers, much of what he or she had previously—even if subconsciously—dismissed as impossible suddenly seems doable. Some of these young people will go on to pursue science in more depth, which Mohammed also nurtures through other advanced CORDian projects, providing the country with the well-rounded science minds so instrumental in the 21st century.
CORD aims to create science communication methods for different segments of the society. CORD's activities are all about delivering scientific knowledge through entertaining events and engage different age segments and backgrounds to these activities. CORD's first activity in 2007, that is still running, was robot building contests but with two main rules; robots had to be simple and all the robot components must be upcycled materials available everywhere. And hence CORD always promoted to resourcefulness and productivity attitudes. CORD tackles the science communication field through three main tracks; producing Edutainment creative commercial products, developing technically supported Robot contests and using these experiences to develop practical learning Curriculum and Workshops.