Thursday, October 15, 2009

MassTLC celebrates the role of Robotics in STEM Education at US Capitol

Working with the Congressional Robotics Caucus, MassTLC invited Dean Kamen, an inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology, to join members of MassTLC's Robotics Cluster for a Caucus briefing on the use of robots in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Education at the Capitol in Washington.

Dean Kamen (Pictured here with Christyl Johnson, Executive Director, National Science and Technology Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy and former Assistant Associate Administrator at NASA) delivered a keynote address that highlighted how FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was creating student demand for science and technology curriculum. His vision for FIRST is "[to] transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes." Executives from Bluefin Robotics, Deka Research, FIRST, iRobot, North End Technologies, TIAX, and WPI joined Council CEO Tom Hopcroft at the briefing.

The Congressional Bi-Partisan Robotics Caucus is co-chaired by Congressman Mike Doyle (PA) and Congressman Phil Gingrey (GA), and includes Massachusetts Representatives Michael Capuano, Jim McGovern, John Olver, John F. Tierney, and Niki Tsongas. (See prior posts on Cluster briefings with Represenatives McGovern and Tsongas.) The purpose is to focus on key issues facing the nation's robotics industry based on emerging technology.

The goals of the Congressional Robotics Caucus include: Increasing general awareness of challenges and issues among Members of Congress and policy analysts; Educating Members of Congress and congressional staff on current & future research and development, and utilization initiatives; Serving as a forum where robotics-related policy issues can be exchanged, debated and discussed by members of Congress; and Ensuring that our nation remains globally competitive as the robotics industry expands and further affects the way we live our lives.

The briefing on using robotics for STEM Education was well timed with Governor Patrick and Lt. Gov. Murray's proclamation that October be STEM Education Month in Massachusetts. If fact, just a day prior, Patrick and Murray visited The Mathworks in Natick to sign an executive order establishing the state's STEM Advisory Council. The Council, which will be chaired by Murray, will help prepare students and workers for high-tech careers that will provide long-term economic benefits for Massachusetts.

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