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Robotics demo at USTRANSCOM shows STEM possibilities

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Members of the FIRST Lego League and FIRST Tech Challenge teams demonstrated the capabilities of their robots April 12 in the east lobby of U.S. Transportation Command’s Building 1900E.

“We are here to demonstrate science, technology, engineering, math as part of the STEM Program,” said Jeff Gulick, a coach for both teams.   “These teams are coached by volunteers from TRANSCOM, Air Mobility Command and SDDC.  They design and build robots to compete at state and regional level.  

“The FIRST Tech Challenge Team 5085, ‘Newton’s Lawyers,’ qualified for the world championship later this month at the Edward Jones Dome,” Gulick continued, “and the Lego team (ages 9-14) compete at the regional level.” 

According to Gulick, the world championship includes the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship, the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship, and the FIRST Lego League World Festival. 

“The FTC team is preparing for the FIRST World Championships 25-28 April at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis,” Gulick said.  “There are 100 teams from all over the world.  Most of U.S., Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, etc. will be competing.” 

While this is a great chance for the teams to experience international competition, it would not have been possible without the dedicated STEM professionals. 

“STEM is a national movement between business and government, and many public and private institutions are involved,” said Todd Pollard, a USTRANSCOM engineer and STEM supporter. “From a DOD standpoint, we want to inspire, attract and develop the next generation of U.S. scientists, engineers and STEM technicians. 

“The STEM fields cover everything from aircraft mechanic to PhD physicist, and we have most of the field covered here at USTRANSCOM, SDDC and on Scott Air Force Base,” Pollard continued.  “We’ve got thousands of STEM professionals in the DOD workforce here on Scott, among the Guard, Reserves, active duty, civilians as well as defense contractors.” 

“It’s a great program,” Gulick added.   “The kids learn teamwork, problem solving, programming, engineering, design.   It’s a great way to get them excited about science and engineering.” 

                                                            - USTRANSCOM -

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