Robotics is a great way for kids to learn about STEM and find other like-minded kids, but it can be hard for schools to procure and maintain the equipment needed for robotics programming.
That’s where Macomb County’s new Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center comes in.
This new center, located in the Velocity Center on 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights, works with local businesses, educational organizations, non-profits and more to provide local robotics teams with the tools, expert advice and space needed to be successful.
“We want to help get teams resources and training that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” Marjie Jenkins, the Macomb Robotics Center Coordinator, says.
What’s offered at the center
Currently, thanks in large part to the Macomb County Intermediate School District, Macomb Community College, the Sterling Heights Velocity Center and a grant received through the Michigan Defense Center, the Macomb County Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center features a CNC router and a 3D printer, both of which are open to all robotics teams in Macomb County.
It also hosts virtual talks with robotics professionals to offer training to teams and discuss how robotics can be turned into a career
But the center is going to have much more than that once construction is completed by the end of the summer because Jenkins hopes to turn it into something like Flint’s Kettering University’s First Kettering Center, which houses eight teams and numerous resources for kids who build robots.
“The plan is to have a full-sized field for the kids to use,” she explains. “You can have an average robot but if you get to practice with it, you can make it phenomenal, and that’s not a resource that a lot of teams have.”
In addition to the field, the center will also be a work space where teams can work on their robots, store their creations and collaborate with other teams to help to help one another learn and grow.
“Kids in robotics learn to work together and maybe how to be a leader. I feel like they learn to be a more well-rounded students,” Jenkins says.
They can also learn skills through robotics that they might not associate with robotics through being on a team in Macomb County, too.
“Robotics sounds technical but it can be anything. A lot of teams have a marketing group or a business team, you can learn photography and videography, you can be a graphics kid and do the art graphics for your team’s shirt or a banner, so it’s not just mechanical,” she adds.
How to get involved
With the help of Michigan’s first robotics team, First in Michigan, Jenkins has been able to reach out to the robotics teams in Macomb County to find out what they need the most and help with their recruitment efforts.
That said, the center is always open to helping new teams in Macomb County. All they need to do is reach out at 586-469-5065.
For more information on the Macomb County Robotics Collaboration and Innovation Center, visit it online.
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