State invests $3M in school robotics programs

The Michigan Department of Education, in an attempt to further bridge the talent gap, recently announced a $3 million investment in programs that will better prepare Michigan students for the careers of today and the future.

State-funded grants have been awarded to 506 public and non-public Michigan schools to start or expand robotics programs across the state. The grants continue the department’s investment in robotics programs, which help students learn about applications of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) through the building of robots for competitions, with the FIRST Robotics World Championships return to Detroit in April.

The grants will help develop more than 2,300 robotics programs in Michigan. 

“To invest in a stronger talent pipeline, we must invest in Michigan’s young people and the programs that prepare them for an evolving 21st Century global economy,” State Interim Superintendent Sheila Alles said. “It’s partnerships like these we see from these robotics programs – bringing business and education together – that will help students understand the skills needed to be successful after high school, no matter their post-secondary career path. It also solidifies our footprint as a Top 10 education state in 10 years.”

Economic development will also benefit from the grants.

“Programs like FIRST Robotics, VEX Robotics, and the many other leading, high-tech programs are a perfect blend of real-world experiences and hands-on education that will pay dividends in Michigan’s bright and vibrant economic future,” said Jeremy Hendges from the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan. “This investment shows a state ready and willing to tackle the challenges and changes that are presented by an ever-changing global economy.”

Michigan has invested more than $12 million in FIRST teams since 2004. Research shows that students who participate in FIRST Robotics programs are twice as likely to major in science or engineering in college, and more than 75 percent of FIRST alumni are currently in a STEAM field as students or professionals.

The World Championships planned for April 24-27are expected to bring nearly 35,000 students and 700 teams to Ford Field and Cobo Center with four levels of competition. Last year, two Michigan teams were part of the winning alliance at the World Championships in Detroit, the second consecutive year Michigan teams came out on top.

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