Funding to expand robotics and engineering education in Allegheny County

Nov. 25 – Cumberland, MD – Allegheny County Public Schools will soon have a new space to field a competitive high school robotics team.

U.S. Rep. David Troon and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, all Maryland Democrats, this week announced funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, and state and local governments, for the Computational Thinking initiative for STEM education (REACT).

ARC is a regional economic development agency created by Congress in 1965 that is composed of governors from 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair appointed by the president.

REACT stands for Robotics and Engineering of Allegany County – Together, Inc. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

“Providing students with a high-quality STEM education will pay dividends for our state and ensure that Marylanders are prepared for future jobs in engineering and technology,” the lawmakers said via a press release.

“Working with ARC and local leaders, we remain committed to investing in these young leaders and innovators in our state,” they stated. “We look forward to seeing the amazing opportunities this program will offer Maryland students for years to come.”

The funding, which includes $170,000 from ARC and $233,000 from the state and Allegheny County, is expected to help 150 students develop robotics skills.

REACT member Mike Fiscus said the organization thanks the project’s many steadfast supporters.

“The Doug and Betsy Schwab Foundation, the Stephen and Amy Owens Foundation, and the AES Warrior Run provided critical seed funding,” Fiscus said via email.

Fiscus said local and state government leaders, including Maryland Sens. George Edwards and Dale Mike McKay, Allegheny County commissioners and Cumberland Mayor Ray Morris and the city council, contributed the matching funds required for the ARC grant.

“It is clear that our community is united in its vision of providing our youth with world-class STEM learning opportunities,” he said.

“REACT looks forward to many exciting days at RISE,” said Fiscus of REACT STEM Education.

The funds will help expand access and opportunities for students to develop advanced skills through applied practice in robotics, engineering, and coding, said Kim Greene-Calbo, ACPS’ chief academic officer.

“This is incredible news,” she said via email. “Students will build communication skills, critical thinking skills, and collaborative skills—all essential STEM skills.”

Calpoe said that REACT has been working for several years to get a dedicated space for its robotics teams to compete at the highest levels.

“With this generous funding, this vision will soon become a reality in Allegheny County,” she said.

Teresa McMinn is the digital editor at The Cumberland Times-News. She can be contacted at 304-639-2371 or tmcminn@times-news.com.

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