Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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NY1 covers the "Connect A Million Minds" initiative, a five-year philanthropic program by parent company Time Warner Cable to inspire students to pursue learning opportunities and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Connect A Million Minds: College Students Mentor Grade-School Students In Robotics Competition

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TWC News: Connect A Million Minds: College Students Mentor Grade-School Students In Robotics Competition
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Students across the country are busy gearing up for the FIRST Robotics Competition this coming week, and as students make final preparations to the mechanics of their bots, NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner checked in with some mechanical engineering students from the city’s College of Technology who lent a helping hand, or tool, along the way.

A group of robo-enthusiasts are doing more than earning their college degrees. They're sharing their knowledge and experiences with high school and middle-school students from across the city as part of an American Society of Mechanical Engineers youth outreach program.

"We get to show them what science and engineering is, which is really cool," said Bijan Bayat Mokhtari, a student section mentor with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

The New York City College of Technology's Mechatronics center trains engineering majors to mentor kindergarten through 12th-grade students in both technical and professional skills.

Over the past two years, they've mentored 20 teams who build robots from scratch to battle against each other in the FIRST Robotics competition.

"That was really amazing, to actually see the students learn that they can not only learn about robots, but actually get a chance to build their own," said Zayva Lareche, a student section mentor with the ASME.

"It's also good for us as mentors, too, because every time we teach them something, we show them something, we learn more about that topic, too," Mokhtari said.

The young engineers are all members of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, which emphasizes collaboration, knowledge sharing, career enrichment and skill development across engineering disciplines.

"As a young person coming out of junior high school, that range of experience, that range of opportunity isn't necessarily obvious," said Kevin Hom of the CUNY School of Technology. "So what we try to do is to let them know that there are creative avenues for their talents, for their ambitions, and understand there's a career path ahead of them that will benefit them, satisfy their intellectual curiosity, and benefit the citizens of this country and the world."

Students like the ones the college mentors work with are busy preparing for the FIRST Robotics finals set to take place starting Wednesday in St. Louis.

Three teams from New York City - Stuypulse from Stuyvesant High School, Team 4797 of Queens' Bryant High School and the Harlem Knights from the Frederick Douglass Academy - will be battling hundreds of teams from across the world for the top spot.

Tune in next week as Connect a Million Minds takes you to the FIRST Championships at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

To find more hands-on science, technology, engineering and math opportunities in your community visit connectamillionminds.com.

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