Next week robotic teams from across the country, including our neck of the woods, will be in St. Louis for the FIRST Robotics League National Championship. Among the participants is a team from California that's also the subject of a recently published book called, "The New Cool." NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner recently caught up with them at a regional competition in San Diego and filed the following report.
Amir Abo-Shaeer and his 32 member team have spent countless hours tinkering, tweaking and re-programming their sleek, sophisticated robot. That bot may have been the focus at a recent FIRST tournament in San Diego but it's not the focus of the former engineer's program -- the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, which he designed to serve one purpose.
"To introduce people to engineering, students to engineering and science. Give them an exciting, kind of hands-on experience to science," Abo-Shaeer said.
And it's not just on the technical side. Located in Goleta, California, the engineering academy located within Dos Pueblos High School is actually run by the students as a business.
"We're all on business teams. We write grants, we put out press releases, we fund reimbursements, we do the apparel, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera," said Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Student Noah Connally.
"It's just like if they were in a venture capital meeting and they were a small business and they were presenting their work product and trying to get funding. We do the same thing. We present our work product which is the students, our robot, our projects, and the people look at this and say this is such an innovative education offering or experience we want to help this come to the forefront," Abo-Shaeer said.
The capstone of the program is Team 1717, D'Penguineers -- an all-senior, all-rookie team that's made it to nationals four times in the past six years. This year will be their fifth.
The students are also the subject of the book "The New Cool," which has already been optioned for a movie.
But forget going Hollywood, these kids are going other places: MIT, Berkley and Cal Tech to name a few. And the program is going places too, increasing in size from 32 students to 100. More kids in means more future innovators out.
"Definitely signifies that we have more students that are becoming interested and then going on to become engineers or scientists and that type. And that's definitely, I think, beneficial to our country as a whole," said Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Student QSI.
For more information on other programs designed to inspire children in science, technology, engineering and math, go to connectamillionminds.com.