TEXAS – The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has issued a solicitation for grants to enable high school students to participate in different robotics-related events and projects and foster interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The agency reported that the youth robotics programs launch in August following a $2.1 million award from TWC, allowing for expanded youth participation in various projects, removing different barriers to students with disabilities through partnerships and collaborations.
This year, four applicants received awards – FIRST in Texas, REC Foundation, Urban STEM and Collegiate Edu-nation, the commission noted.
“TWC anticipates at least 2.1 million STEM jobs in Texas by 2028. Hands-on experience is an essential component to the development of STEM job applicants,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel.
FIRST in Texas received $700,000 to assist 5,700 middle and high school students in more than 400 youth robotics teams. The initiative offers dedicated programs to 500 students with disabilities in partnership with Unified Robotics, Texas School for the Deaf (TSD), Special Olympics Texas (SOTX), and the national affiliate, FIRST, and the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which has established Competitive Robotics as a fully recognized official UIL academic program.
The REC Foundation received $699,665 to provide STEM education to approximately 2,550 students in grades 9-12 in Texas, while providing them with a unique opportunity to participate in programs and competitions using the VEX Robotics platform. The Foundation will partner with TSD and SOTX to increase STEM education opportunities to students with disabilities, and with TSD will host its first high school level competition for all deaf and hard of hearing teams.
Urban STEM (USTEM) was awarded $120,506 to engage 2,974 students in youth robotics education programs and to support the robotics events they organize, such as the Urban STEM Robotics League (USRL). Their latest competition includes new events such as Aerial Robots, Waterbotics and Robofest, which incorporate drones and underwater robots.
Collegiate Edu-nation (CEN) received $685,000 to partner with nine rural independent school districts (ISDs) to establish and support current robotics programs. The nine school districts include Hamlin CISD, Hico ISD, Floydada ISD, Sunray CISD, Spurger ISD, Cumby ISD, Venus ISD, Throckmorton CISD and Iraan-Sheffield ISD, all in rural Texas. The dedicated competition offered through the CEN will be designed to include all students.