TWC Awards $1.4M in Robotics Grants

Date: July 1, 2021

Media Contact: Cisco Gamez
Phone: 512-463-8556

 

AUSTIN ⎯ The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has awarded the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation Inc. and the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) in Texas grants totaling $1,395,791 as part of the Texas Youth Robotics Initiative, which aims to expand statewide participation in robotics programs for high school students.

“Partnerships creating work-based learning experiences in STEM disciplines are a key step in making sure our future workforce is ready to meet the challenges of a changing economy,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “TWC’s support of youth initiatives will ensure Texas remains a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The Texas Youth Robotics Initiative encourages interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers by expanding student participation in robotics programs in grades nine through twelve by developing new teams for robotics education competitions, while also supporting existing competitive robotics education teams. With a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, REC and FIRST actively engages with underserved, underrepresented and vulnerable populations, including students with disabilities. Disability inclusion and accessibility are priorities in all efforts to create new teams, and REC and FIRST are using innovative approaches to produce a new competition that is specifically targeted to students with disabilities. All competitions are expected to be accessible, and REC and FIRST place emphasis on continuously improving inclusion in all competitions.

“Robotics competitions make learning STEM fun and exciting,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “The more students we can inspire to pursue rewarding careers in high demand STEM fields, the better prepared they will be for Texas’ increasingly competitive job market.”

The $695,791 grant awarded to REC will be used to create 125 new high school robotics teams across the state, 25 of which will be comprised of students with disabilities. Additionally, 218 existing teams will receive funds to sustain their robotics programs. Overall, this grant will provide effective STEM education to nearly 2,400 high school students in Texas.

“This unique program delivers the one-two punch of strengthening the talent pipeline for our Texas employers while also encouraging young scholars to pursue in-demand disciplines,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “We are dedicated to providing young students learning opportunities where their passion and enthusiasm for STEM fields can be developed for postsecondary education and rewarding career opportunities with Texas employers.”

The $700,000 grant awarded to FIRST will support participation of 5,700 new and existing students. FIRST specifically targets underserved students and populations with a special focus on students with disabilities, students from low-income or military households, as well as students who are home-schooled or in foster care, on 255 FIRST Tech Challenge teams, 118 FIRST Robotics Competition teams, and 30 “FIRST Access” teams (100% students with disabilities), for a total of 500 students with disabilities participating in all teams.

By addressing barriers for students in these populations, REC and FIRST are ensuring access to programs by all students, so that all young people have the opportunity to become science and technology leaders.  

Robotics competitions bring together the excitement of sports with science and technology. Participation promotes leadership skills in the science, engineering and technology fields, while encouraging self-confidence and communications skills. 

More information about these two grant recipients can be found at:

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The Texas Workforce Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers and communities prosper economically. For details on TWC and the services it offers in coordination with its network of local workforce development boards, call 512-463-8942 or visit www.texasworkforce.org. To receive notifications about TWC programs and services subscribe to our email updates.

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