Minnesota gives $2.7M in robotics, STEM grants



(The Center Square) – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced $2.7 million in Robotics Teams and STEM Internships Program grants to eight nonprofit organizations and education institutions.

This competitive grant program provides grants to organizations to support high school robotics teams, help prepare youth for STEM careers, and create internships for high school students to work at private companies in STEM fields.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

“STEM careers remain in high demand and these skills have applications in many areas – from medical technology companies to manufacturing organizations that are increasingly turning to robotics and automation technology that require skilled workers to operate high-tech machinery,” Commissioner Matt Varilek said in a statement. “Robotics programs provide our future workforce with hands-on opportunities to gain skills and comfort with technology, and early internship opportunities help students set goals and establish plans for their future education and careers.”

Robotics Teams and STEM Internships Program grant award recipients are:

• Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio: $100,000 to establish a robotics team at Johnson High School in St. Paul. Students will design, build and learn about robotics and participate in robotics competitions.

• High Tech Kids: $730,000 to the Eagan-headquartered nonprofit organization serving thousands of students across the state each year. This project will support existing and new high school FIRST Tech Challenge robotics programs.

• Minnesota STEM Partnership: $240,000 for the program to offer robotics hub locations near St. Paul Central High School and in North Minneapolis. It will partner with schools in the Twin Cities metro area and Rochester to provide training for up to 15 high school robotics teams.

• Owatonna Robotics Booster Club: $80,000 to support students in the Owatonna area to participate in robotics teams and competitions. Students will also be offered computer programming and computer-aided design classes and one-on-one mentoring from STEM professionals.

• Pequot Lakes Public Schools: $120,000 to help the Pequot Lakes High School robotics team purchase equipment and supplies required for robotics competitions and cover team travel expenses for those events.

• Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council, Inc.: $220,000 to help high school robotics teams participate in competitions and prepare students for STEM careers through hands-on career exploration, mentorship, career guidance, and work-based learning opportunities.

• St. Cloud Technical & Community College: $230,000 to provide opportunities for students to complete STEM career explorations and create internship opportunities for high school students at established employer partners in the manufacturing sector.

• St. Cloud State University: $980,000 to support 40 high school robotics teams, comprising about 800 students in Greater Minnesota through direct team funding support, including access to practice fields and advanced equipment through SCSU’s Technology, Engineering & Career Network.

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