Get Involved in STEM–With Robots!

First Robotics CompetitionWith manufacturing becoming larger and larger—alongside the invention of new technology like 3D printing—more jobs have opened up for students coming out of high school or college and entering the manufacturing field.

But as we regularly discuss, manufacturing organizations recognize that a lot of younger employees are holding back from studying STEM and applying for manufacturing jobs. Luckily, there are many organizations out there today (like us here at NeMAC!) that have taken it upon themselves to help get students interested in manufacturing and STEM.

One fascinating organization is the National Tooling and Machining Association’s National Robotics League (NRL). The NTMA created the NRL to garner a new group of students and introduce them to today’s advanced skills and technology of manufacturing. These robotics events take place across the world and across schools in Nebraska, even middle schools.

The NRL combines competitors, industry sponsors, and educational advisors to unite to manufacture a robot combatant and create an understanding of the world of science, technology, and manufacturing.

Another robotics league known as the First Robotics Competition (FRC) thrives off the celebration of science and technology in the field of robotics. Much like the NRL, FRC organizes competitions throughout the United States so students can go head to head with one another. But unlike the NRL, FRC reaches to age groups as small as third grade and kindergarten. FRC is a mentor-based program, too, which helps not only build science, engineering, and technology skills but also well-rounded capabilities like self-confidence and leadership.

Finally, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a non-profit organization out of Indianapolis. PLTW, which we’ve discussed here on our blog before, generates hands-on projects based in science, technology, math, and engineering for middle and high schools across the United States.

PLTW has over 4,200 schools across the nation that offers PLTW classes. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln joined PLTW in 2006. The College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln prides itself on its unique role as the only intellectual and cultural resource for engineering and technology, research, and outreach in Nebraska.

These three organizations have expanded across the nation, intent on getting the younger generation interested in not only science and technology, but also manufacturing. Collectively, their goals are the same–to teach younger students the importance of manufacturing but in a fun and understandable way.

As we’ve seen, manufacturing today isn’t dead—in fact, it’s far from it. And organizations like these—which we certainly encourage students to get involved in—are changing and evolving to help fit future job needs. Who would’ve ever thought that robotics would be such a powerful educational force?

photo credit: NASA HQ PHOTO via photopin cc