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Helping Teens Build Dreams at Polk Robotics

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Freeing the fantastic configurations of our imaginations to soar on the wings of infinite possibilities – this is the profound impact of both modern technology and a quality education. The big-hearted people at AT&T understand the transformative power of each.

Discovering new, uncharted worlds through technology while enjoying an educational adventure that provides truckloads of fun and excitement – these are the wonderful benefits that Technobot Robotics at Polk State College can provide to young minds. And for many Polk County high school students, the chance to maneuver this riveting experience into the realm of possibility literally hinges on the deeply significant impact of a generous gift from AT&T.

As a leader in the world of technology and communications, AT&T’s passion is to nurture high school students’ limitless potential in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The company’s generous donation of $25,000.00 to the Polk State College Foundation to support the Technobot Robotics Program accomplishes that goal, making an incredible difference in many young lives.

The rapidly-growing summer program – its attendance increasing exponentially from 12 students in 2012 to 21 students in 2013 – was made available to high school students at a nominal cost of $35.00 because of AT&T’s generosity.

Students from high schools throughout Polk County participated this year, building and experimenting with robots while honing critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills in a dynamic, interactive environment. They learned to use programming and engineering principles to respond to challenges, and engaged in a digital media component of TALON robotics.

They also visited businesses that use robotics in their operations, letting them observe practical applications of their newly acquired skills in actual workplaces, and providing an exciting glimpse into their future career possibilities.

At the thrilling culmination of the program, a competition known as the Robot Rumble, students demonstrated the STEM skills they acquired by pitting their technical creations against one another in various challenges. This adrenaline-pumping apex generated wild cheers and exhilaration from participants and spectators alike.

AT&T Regional Director Matt Mucci was there, feeling the palpable excitement in the air and witnessing firsthand the gratifying results of the company’s philanthropy.

“It’s so rewarding to see these young, promising students so excited and engaged as their ideas come to life — there is no doubt that tomorrow’s leaders are right here in this room today,” Mucci said.

“AT&T’s generosity contributed to the great success of this year’s event, and we are most grateful!” said Tracy Porter, Executive Director of the Polk State College Foundation.

In addition to the educational benefits and the thrill of competition, there’s another thing to cheer about: the tremendous impact that AT&T’s funds have on the potential to improve the Polk county economy.

“As Polk county expands and enriches its high tech interests, it becomes critical that a skilled, college-prepared talent pool have foundational knowledge in higher level math and science, and develop the passion and drive it takes to succeed. AT&T has recognized that need and has responded in a very tangible way that will serve as a foundation for Polk County for transformational economic and educational change,” said Dr. Naomi Boyer, Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Polk State who leads the Robotics program at Polk.

Since 2012, the Technobots program, part of the TALON Robotics program at Polk State College, has been engaging high school students in active STEM learning. It has the capacity to ultimately serve 75 students.

TALON Robotics was born as a result of two departments in the Polk County School District requesting specialized summer enrichment programs that would provide interdisciplinary, STEM learning experiences to keep students engaged in the learning process through hands-on, active learning.

Polk State College works as a partner with the Polk County School District to design, implement, coordinate, register, host, and administer the program. Expertise, personnel, and materials are selected from the best models within both organizations to develop a robust, sustainable, and unique learning option for students. Polk State College has been honored to facilitate STEM development, including robotics and digital media development at all levels of the curriculum to create pathways for student success.

By offering a hand with its generous philanthropy, AT&T makes it possible for promising young minds to reach out and grab this fantastic educational opportunity, transforming their futures for a lifetime.