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Students, leaders celebrate robotics at Capitol STEM Day

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High school robotics students, Motorola representatives, and state leaders gathered in Tallahassee on Tuesday to celebrate the significance of science, technology, engineering and math education.

Co-sponsored by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and Florida FIRST Robotics, “STEM Day at the Florida Capitol” featured robotics teams from across the state, each a participant in national competitions.

Motorola Solutions Foundation Director Matt Blakely, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio were also on hand for a press conference.

The event began with a discussion of the value of STEM education in preparing students for success in the modern workforce. Later, attendees demonstrated student-built robots and solar car technology developed in STEM labs at the various schools.

“We are proud to see Motorola Solutions employees serving as volunteer mentors for these teams,” Blakely said. “They have helped these students harness their creativity, technical skills and research abilities to become successful robot-building teams.

Blakey added that STEM education initiatives in Florida show students how engineering and technology careers are “fun and more relevant than ever.”

Since 2007, Motorola Solutions Foundation invested nearly $2 million in STEM-related projects in Florida schools, as well as contributing more than $20 million and hundreds of volunteer hours to FIRST since its inception in 1989.

“Florida is laser-focused on being a global leader for jobs and a critical component of that must be the development of a talented workforce,” Lopez-Cantera said. “We are proud of the work our students are doing to learn about what it takes to compete in today’s global economy.”

Commissioner Stewart added that STEM education is vital to ensuring students have the knowledge and skills they need “to thrive in a world where technology is more prevalent than ever.”

The high school students are members of FIRST Robotics teams that compete in robotics competitions in Florida and nationally.

“When Florida students excel in STEM learning, it improves their chances of finding success in the growing Florida economy,” Panuccio said. STEM education prepares individuals for the high-skill, high-wage jobs for the state’s burgeoning talent pipeline, he continued.

“Every day, students involved in STEM learning are adding knowledge and gaining experience that will serve them well in the workforce,” said Patrick Hermes, Northwest Florida Regional Tournament Director for FIRST. “Today they are competing in robotics competitions, but tomorrow they will be using this technology for the greater good, helping to improve healthcare, transportation, and even our nation’s space program.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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