i.am FIRST Robotics Program Launched in Boyle Heights

By on February 6, 2014 at 8:00 am | Leave your thoughts

The i.am Angel Foundation is proud to launch the first-ever competitive robotics team in Boyle Heights at Roosevelt High School. Robotics is one of the best embodiments of STEAM. It’s about hands-on, project-based learning, and it combines engineering with coding and design. Robotics is like a varsity sport for the mind!

Our team of 20 students has spent the last 5 weeks designing and building a robot from scratch, in order to compete in the international FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis this April. It’s an intensive program — our robotics students meet every day after school with dedicated STEM professionals who offer valuable instruction and mentorship in creating sophisticated robots.

will.i.am is a long-time supporter of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Competition, founded by inventor Dean Kamen to celebrate the engineering prowess of K-12 students. To inspire the next generation of rockstar inventors, will.i.am produced the TV special “i.am FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll” which aired in primetime on the ABC Network in August 2011.

Starting a robotics team at Roosevelt High School is monumental to the Boyle Heights community, especially to its students who aspire towards careers in STEM. Ismael Soto, one of the student leaders explained, “With this robotics team, we’ll be able to bring incredible new spirit to Roosevelt High School and to our community. With will.i.am’s support, we feel like we can do anything.”

The team has a strong presence of young women interested in STEM careers. The team captain is 16-year-old Cynthia Erenas, a tech whiz who has already won top prizes at 2 hackathons and dreams of studying at MIT: “I never imagined I could be building a robot at school. Now I want to use my new skills and apply for an internship at NASA this summer.”

The i.am Angel Foundation has partnered with leading organizations to make this robotics program possible. Our partners in STEAM include Chase, Dassault Systemes, Raytheon, Google, HP, 3D Systems, and NVIDIA, who have all contributed to the successful creation of this Roosevelt robotics team.

For more photos and updates on our team’s progress, check out the i.am Angel Facebook page! Will our students win it all in St.Louis? Stay tuned!

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