“ We are helping them with skill sets they are going to use every day for the rest of their lives. The girls are being exposed to a world and possibilities they may never have known existed.”
Bringing STEM initiatives to life through robotics
Did you ever think about building a robot? More than 5,000 students are doing exactly that each year in Georgia. Through GeorgiaFIRST’s annual FIRST Robotics and FIRST Tech Robotics competitions, 7th-12th grade students are challenged to work on teams to design and build a robot, and compete in high intensity events that allow them to discover the rewards and excitement of an education or career in Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics.
For the last six years, Georgia Power has supported FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics, a non-profit that strives to encourage student participation in mentorbased programs that inspire young people to be science and technology leaders.
According to Suzanne Sharkey, Georgia Power’s local manager in Waynesboro, GA, that’s not all participating students learn. Sharkey, who serves as a coach and mentor for an all-girls FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team, believes, “we are helping them with skill sets they are going to use every day for the rest of their lives. The girls are being exposed to a world and possibilities they may never have known existed.”
Due to the current and future demand for employees with science and technology backgrounds in the energy industry, Georgia needs students to be skilled in these fields.
Engaging students through workforce development opportunities
Another way Georgia Power supports FIRST Robotics is with a custom-built portable machine shop. Originally built by Georgia Power to support students at robotics competitions, the trailer travels statewide to support the company’s workforce development initiatives.
Last fall, high school students had the opportunity at SkillsChallengeUSA to learn more about jobs and skills in the construction-related industry.
Georgia Power’s Flint Shepherd, a methods & training specialist in Macon who travels with and supports this trailer, had the opportunity to show participating students some of the tools the company uses on the engineering and maintenance side of the business.
“Students seemed impressed and some had not considered this area as an opportunity before,” he said. “Georgia Power’s involvement in this program helps heighten students’ awareness about available construction-related and technical job opportunities.”