"The VEX Robotics World Championship is an exciting ride from start to finish. It's truly inspiring to witness the hard work and dedication of these teams, who competed all year to get an invitation to Louisville," said Paul Copioli, president of VEX Robotics. "We're thrilled to see students from Canada, China, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States excelling in STEM as they proudly take home World Champion titles for their outstanding performance, teamwork and sportsmanship."
There was a time in America, not too long ago, when most people, including journalists, business leaders, politicians, and scholars, were full-throated advocates of technologically powered productivity growth. They understood that through mechanization, automation, and other forms of innovation, we can produce more, better, and cheaper goods and services, and have higher incomes.
The number of industrial robots sold in the U.S. will jump nearly 300 percent in less than a decade, according to a projection from ABI Research. Already, 40 percent more robots were sold last year in the U.S., compared with four years prior, says data collected from the Robotic Industries Association.
Unfortunately for the U.S., while America is a big user of robotics it's well behind in the field of robots for industrial manufacturing and stands to lose out on the billions of dollars in purchases of robotics in the years ahead. Japan's Fanuc Corp. is the world's largest industrial-robot producer. Germany-based Kuka is another major player. Last year, China's appliance giant Midea Group snapped up a majority stake in Kuka.
Although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week he's "not at all" worried about mass unemployment as the U.S. becomes more technologically advanced, a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates hundreds of thousands of jobs have been sidelined by automation in the U.S. in recent decades.
Elementary and secondary school students who later want to become scientists and engineers often get hands-on inspiration by using off-the-shelf kits to build and program robots. But so far it’s been difficult to create robotic projects to foster interest in the “wet” sciences - biology, chemistry and medicine - so called because experiments in these field often involve fluids.
As adults, there are so many resources available to us to break into the world of programming and coding. From organizations like General Assembly and the hundreds of localized coding bootcamps, you can practically throw a stick into the wind and find a way to learn about development. For kids on the other hand, things are not quite as cut and dry, and programming is not readily available in the classroom.
Thanks to the promotion of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in schools, many parents recognize these should be an essential element of children’s summer experiences. But trying to choose a summer STEM program can be overwhelming. What are the most desirable characteristics of a summer robotics and STEM camp?
Add building robots to the list of out-of-school activities required for kids to be competitive college applicants and future workers. Digital Adventures, which runs summer camps and after-school courses to expose kids to engineering and computer science, aims to provide the experience some parents think is necessary to get into the increasingly attractive field.
Last year, Black Enterprise interviewed Ayanna Howard, Ph.D., an award-winning robotics scientist. Howard has worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, where she led various robotics projects. She is also a Motorola Foundation Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines.