The US Army supports STEM through robotics

Competitions help emphasize the joy in engineering.

Getting middle and high school students interested in engineering often involves hands-on activities. When it comes to hands-on activities, there are few projects more popular than building robots. The Army doesn’t just understand that. They support it to.

As described in a press release, the Army is a sponsor of the VEX Robotics Competition. The VEX Robotics competition is the largest middle school and high school robotics program in the world. There are over 9,000 teams from 28 countries which participate.

Maj. Gen. Todd Semonite was among the Army representatives supporting the US Army All-American Bowl VEX Robotics competition. The US Army All-American Bowl is a regional competition in San Antonio, Texas, and a pathway to the national and world competitions.

Semonite has served in multiple engineering roles, including deputy chief of engineers for the Department of the Army and deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  He sees the value of STEM education and wants others to experience the satisfaction of seeing their ideas come to life.

The Army has been focused on involving local students and schools by providing 32 team grants to start new teams in the state this year. They have also provided judges and mentors to support the San Antonio event, where approximately 600 students compete in two different divisions. After a series of competitions, the season concludes in April with the VEX Robotics Competition World Championship where over 800 teams compete over three days.

Robots are a proven way to get kids interested in engineering. The VEX platform combines standardized parts with flexibility in design to enable students to be creative without having to start from scratch. VEX Robotics and schools have a tight connection, with VEX being the exclusive robotics platform offered to Project Lead the Way (PLTW) schools.

Semonite believes some of the competition’s greatest highlights are the development of teamwork and the drive to accomplish. These are values the Army emphasizes as well. Those character building aspects are not the only common interest, however.

The Army has long embraced technology and some of the fastest growing fields in the Army are STEM related. There is great potential in getting students acclimated to engineering for public and private sector jobs. Although not all students are expected to go on to become engineers, there is value to the curiosity and practical skills these competitions foster.

For more on the US Army All-American Bowl VEX Robotics competition, see the video below.


Image courtesy of VEX Robotics