COSAM News Articles 2022 February Through continued partnership with SCORE, Hyundai propels robotics education to include Montgomery public high schools with $78,800 grant

Through continued partnership with SCORE, Hyundai propels robotics education to include Montgomery public high schools with $78,800 grant

Published: 02/22/2022

By: Leslie Leak

On Jan. 28, 2022, middle school students from Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) participated in a robotics competition held at the Hyundai Training Center in Montgomery, AL. Hosted by Auburn University’s Southeastern Center of Robotics Education (SCORE), the competition was a first-time event for these students and a chance to put newly learned STEM skills to action. 

This robotics competition and education program is a result of the Hyundai Initiative for Robotics Excellence, or HIRE - a partnership formed in 2020 with Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) and SCORE. HMMA made an initial donation of $70,000 in 2020 with the goal of establishing robotics teams at all public middle schools in Montgomery. Through the initial funding, four VEX robotics kits were provided to each MPS middle school and SCORE robotics education specialists provided professional development training to MPS educators last summer. 

“Using an interactive teaching platform to enlighten students about their future potential in STEM contributed to Hyundai’s decision to support this robotics education program,” said Robert Burns, HMMA Chief Administrative Officer. “We believe that whether a student is going to pursue robotics in automotive or any STEM-related career, this educational opportunity is important for Montgomery and Alabama as a whole. We want to be a part of growing the work force.”

The recent competition not only culminated the hard work and effort put forth by MPS educators and middle school students, but also showcased new goals for HIRE’s next phase made possible by HMMA.  At the event, HMMA provided SCORE with an additional $78,800 to expand robotics programs to all eight of the MPS high schools. With plans to kickoff robotics training and education in fall 2022, MPS principals have committed to having at least one robotics team from each high school compete in robotics tournaments, and high school educators will be provided with robotics equipment, training, and other support for their teams. 

“Students find that they are successful in all the different areas of study because they’ve learned how to write through their thought process and have learned how to solve the problems that they’ve come across,” said Kristy Hatch, MPS Science Education Specialist.  

 “Middle school students involved in the HIRE initiative have learned so many skills from this experience - teamwork, critical thinking skills, problem-solving, written and verbal communication, and much more. It’s not about teaching robotics, it’s about using robots to teach,” said Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach for Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM), who was also appointed by Governor Kay Ivey in 2020 to serve on The Alabama STEM Council.   

As a land-grant institution, part of Auburn University’s mission is to improve the lives of Alabamians through impactful service and outreach. 

“HIRE is a beautiful example of how students’ lives can be enriched and enlightened when higher education, K-12 education, and industry work together toward a common goal,” said Ewald.

“I was truly inspired when I saw what these students and teachers had accomplished, Ewald said. “This is just the beginning of something life-changing for these students as well as those who follow in their footsteps.”

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