WPI/FIRST partnership goes back 30 years | New

0

Investing in STEM innovation

In 1997, the university became the first in the world to establish a scholarship for FIRST old students. Dozens of colleges and universities have followed suit, but WPI FIRST The scholarships remain among the most generous.

Each year, WPI offers two four-year undergraduate scholarships to a FIRST participant. A prize rewards design innovation; the other celebrates the leadership and vision of a student from a traditionally underrepresented group in STEM. Last year, 141 students applied for the two scholarships.

In 2000, WPI began hosting [email protected], an off-season FIRST competition that allows teams to use the robots they created earlier in the year to compete against each other once again. The event attracts more than 1,000 high school students to campus each year.

Many younger students experience WPI for the first time when they participate in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge, a STEM program that challenges 9-14 year olds to research a theme such as space, oceans and energy, then use LEGO robots to complete missions related to the theme. WPI hosts the annual Massachusetts Championship, as well as qualifying events and other activities for teams across the state.

“You can bring technology to people, but it’s not really sustainable. What we want to bring to people is education. We want children to become engineers and scientists so that their country can develop on its own, without outside support. -Brad Miller

Shaver points out that all FIRST programs, but especially FIRST LEGO League, teach young people much more than robots. “It’s about building globally and socially conscious individuals who understand that the engine of competition should never outweigh the strength of cooperation,” she says. “It’s also about understanding the value of diverse ideas and working to build inclusive teams that can amplify voices not traditionally heard in STEM communities.”

Global STEM initiatives take root

Attracting students to STEM is central to WPI’s mission to revolutionize STEM education and address global challenges. One of the ways WPI works to achieve this goal is to partner with FIRST Global, international subsidiary of FIRST which organizes an annual robotics competition with a team from almost every country in the world.

Kamen asked WPI to become a founding member of the FIRST Global Higher Education Network, a community of STEM teachers from top colleges and universities around the world who agree to work closely with the FIRST Global Challenge team from their country. For the inaugural challenge in 2017, WPI supported teams around the world through remote coaching. The university has also sent volunteer student groups to FIRST World competitions in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

At this year’s challenge in Geneva, WPI and DEKA (a research and development company founded by Kamen) will provide each team with a compact and affordable kit to build a robot. WPI fabricated the kits in the campus fabrication space and developed a program to help teachers around the world introduce basic robotics technology to students in their home countries.

“The hope is that each team mentor will reach out to other teams or schools in their country to improve STEM education using these robot kits,” says Miller. “You can bring technology to people, but it’s not really sustainable. What we want to bring to people is education. We want children to become engineers and scientists so that their country can develop on its own, without outside support.

Share.

Comments are closed.