March 12, 2019
Twelve months ago, Franklin Area High School had four lonely VEX robots that students traveled around Pennsylvania and West Virginia with, searching for teams to compete against. Fast-forward to the end of this February and those four robots have 180 new companions right next door. Together they make up the Pennsylvania Rural Robotics Initiative, a consortium of 11 school districts, one technology center, and an intermediate unit that all share a common robotics platform and curriculum. Twenty-five schools, covering five counties, have found like-minded friends in higher education, business and industry, state and local government, non-profits, and regional economic and workforce development that not only support their initiative but help it to thrive.
The Traffic21 and Mobility21 Institute’s leadership team has been a trusted advisor since the conception of PA Rural Robotics and continues to look for ways to support their mission. Both faculty and graduate students from the Robotics Institute are working to bring CMU and these young STEM students together. PA Rural Robotics was also excited to find themselves partnered with a team of CMU undergraduate students as part of the Information Systems Spring Project. The Office of Outreach and Engagement have provided a menu of options that can further the CMU connections as the initiative grows. The most recent Carnegie Mellon connection was with the CMU CS Academy. PA Rural Robotics plans to introduce their member schools to the CS1 course and discuss the potential it could have in expanding computer science offerings within all of the member districts.