Rogers State University is collaborating with the Mayes County Robotics Team (MCROBO), a consolidated FIRST Robotics team of high school students from Mayes County, to provide high school and college students access to robotic technology.
The MCROBO team was recently awarded a $11,500.00 grant from the Oliver Dewey Mayor Foundation to promote robotics education. The successful grant proposal focused on securing resources that would allow the team to expand STEM and Robotics education and awareness in northeast Oklahoma. The team secured resources that will allow them to serve area youth, educators and college students through a variety of programs and experiences.
The FIRST (For The Inspiration of Robotics, Science and Technology) is a worldwide robotics program competition that engages young people in the application of science and technology. There are four levels of FIRST competitions including First Lego League JR, First Lego League, First Tech Challenge and the flagship program, FIRST Robotics competition. The mission of FIRST® is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
MCROBO is entering their fourth year as a consolidated team and has a great deal of success. Lead mentor and president of MCROBO Darryl MacKay said, “This program helps young people build a multitude of skills, talents and characteristics.” MacKay is also an automation specialist for America Castings located in the MidAmeirca Industrial Park and he understands the importance of well-rounded employees.
“In this program they have the opportunity to learn new technical skills such as welding, programming, and using various machinery, but also to learn team building, personal accountability, communication and volunteerism,” he said. “These are all of the important characteristics we look for in employees.”
Over the past couple of years MCROBO has been offering a summer robotics camp to younger people as a way to expose them to robotics and technology and as a way to get them engaged with robotics. The team has had requests to help train other teams, but also to train educators on robotics so they can teach in their school systems. However, resources were always an issue.
“The team had been borrowing the resources they needed to teach the summer camp and didn’t have the resources to respond to the request to assist other schools and educators,” said Steve Howe, team mentor and Technical Superintendent at Grand River Dam Authority. That is where the idea to try a secure grant funding came to life.
MCROBO developed a proposal that would allow them to secure twelve LEGO robotics kits that could be used to support their program and to teach robotics to young people and educators. The Lego kits are a fun and engaging way to inspire young people and to expose them to the various elements of robotics. The new resources secured from the OD Mayor Foundation grant will be used to continue the summer robotics camp and will also allow the team to take their talents on the road to teach other teams and educators how to use the resources.
The team also saw an opportunity to further the exposure of robotics technology through a partnership with Rogers State University (RSU). RSU at the MidAmerica Industrial Park recently opened a new Tech Lab that is designed to support a variety of technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and now, robotics. The lab will be equipped with a different platform of robotics kits, Vex IQ, which also supports a competition program. “Having this additional platform will allow us to diversify robotics education in the community and provide additional opportunities,” said Faith Gates, Director of the RSU Pryor campus located at MidAmerica. “This also will allow us to incorporate technology and robotics applications in our college level courses. We are grateful that MCROBO included us in their grant application.”
About The OD Mayor Foundation
The OD Mayor Foundation is operated exclusively for public, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes within Mayes County, Oklahoma, and Grayson County, Texas. Generally, grants are made only to institutions, organizations, and agencies located in either of these two counties, but grants made be made to other qualified organizations, which will use the funds for the substantial benefit of the inhabitants of these two counties. For more information: https://mayorfoundation.org/.