National Robotics Week sparking student interest in STEM careers


A high-tech field trip is aiming to turn today's students into tomorrow's scientists. Tuesday, Miamisburg-based Yaskawa Motoman hosted Miami Valley schools for National Robotics Week.

The industrial robot and automation systems company gave tours to students in fourth through eighth grade and demonstrated its products.

Manufacturing equipment, autonomous rovers and even a robotic bartender wowed audiences, like the Teresa Huelskamp's fifth grade science class.

"It's just amazing," said Elaine Rhoades, a fifth grader at Brookville.

Her classmate Lane Willoughby was equally impressed, adding, "I think it's very awesome and very interesting and cool."

Many of the machines at Yaskawa demonstrated concepts the class is learning at school and Huelskamp said they gave the students a look at the curriculum's real-world application.

"They're seeing that, yes, they're doing it in school... but it can follow them when they get older and they can have a career with it," Huelskamp said.

Between the groups on Tuesday and ninth grade students expected on Thursday, Yaskawa employees estimated they would give tours to 600 different students.

Clint Chapman, the Global Sales team leader at Yaskawa Motoman, said demand for tech workers is growing tremendously and he hoped the field trip would attract interest to the industry.

"It's all about planting seeds to see if that sparks that interest, that fire, that desire with that kid to go in that direction," Chapman said.

Some of Hueslkamp's students said the experience was already giving them incentive to pursue careers in STEM.

"After we've learned about some of this, I might consider it," said Rhoades. "It looks cool to work with."

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