Rozimemet Turghun has transitioned from a humble life as a sheepherder in Xinjiang’s Aktokay village to a passionate robotics enthusiast, actively participating in national vocational skills competitions. Representing his hometown team from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the 18-year-old found himself among over 4,000 contestants at the second Vocational Skills Competition, which concluded recently in Tianjin municipality.
While Rozimemet Turghun did not clinch a medal in the mobile robotics category, his unwavering enthusiasm remained evident throughout the competition. He remarked, “While there’s still some ground to cover compared to top-notch participants, I pushed through and completed the event, which was thrilling.”
Born into a family that made a livelihood from herding sheep, Rozimemet’s early years were steeped in rural life, where he accompanied his parents to the mountains to tend to their flock. Back then, he could hardly have envisioned leaving his remote village to pursue a different path from his parents.
However, a significant turning point arrived two years ago when he enrolled at Aksu Technical College, marking his departure from the countryside. During his free time, he developed a knack for tinkering with household electronics, demonstrating a remarkable ability to troubleshoot and repair devices like lamps and radios, all without any formal instruction.
The pivotal moment came in March of the previous year when Zhao Pengfei, the vice-dean of the electrical and mechanical engineering department, began forming a team for a skills competition. Rozimemet Turghun’s exceptional hands-on abilities immediately caught Zhao’s attention during the selection process, leading to his inclusion in the team. He honed his skills in technologies related to industrial robot applications.
Zhao Pengfei recalled his initial skepticism, thinking that a middle school graduate might struggle to grasp the complexities of the competition. However, Rozimemet Turghun defied expectations by quickly comprehending the concepts taught by the teachers and translating them into practical skills. Zhao commended his tenacity as his most valuable trait.
The competition entailed programming industrial robots, a formidable challenge for someone with limited prior computer experience. Unfazed by the daunting task, Rozimemet Turghun tirelessly acquired the essential skills, memorized the positions of each component, and diligently practiced each assembly step day and night.
In April, he and teammate Peng Ruixue entered competitions for the first time and secured first place in the mobile robotics category at a prefectural vocational skills competition. Just a month later, during the Xinjiang tryout for the second Vocational Skills Competition, they claimed a bronze medal. Rozimemet Turghun astounded everyone by completing the disassembly and assembly of a mobile robot in a mere 2 hours and 12 minutes—an achievement that had seemed beyond reach just two months earlier.
Vocational education holds a prominent place on China’s policy agenda, with approximately 10 million individuals graduating from secondary and higher vocational schools annually. This consistent supply of skilled workers has been instrumental in staffing production lines and outlets across the country.
Zhao Pengfei has ambitious plans to introduce cutting-edge technologies from the competition into remote classrooms in Xinjiang, benefiting more students and preparing them for the demands of a rapidly evolving technological landscape.
As the countdown to the competition reached its culmination, Rozimemet Turghun found himself unable to tear his eyes away from the robots on the field, lingering reluctantly as the event concluded. Each competition has not only refined his skills but has also shaped his future aspirations. He shared, “When I herded sheep as a child, I never thought about the future. Now I hope to refine my skills and step onto even broader stages.”