COLORADO SPRINGS — For years, the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) has been working to further STEM education in our area via donations.
AFCEA reports a donation level exceeding $450,000 during 2022 and they've slated 2023 to be the year when they top $500,000 in support to the community. Over $100,000 has gone to teachers in the form of STEM grants.
One of the byproducts of the nonprofit's investment back into the community is the increased availability of robotics kits and competition opportunities for students in the Pikes Peak region.
This year, during the group's annual Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium based at the Broadmoor, the nonprofit, partnered with Pikes Peak Robotics, hosted the AFCEA Pikes Peak Robotics Classic.
This event allowed 20 teams from Colorado Springs to compete with teams from across eight states (and as far as Canada), all while furthering their education.
According to Harry Knight, the STEM coordinator for Fountain-Fort Carson High School and one of the team leaders at the event, this competition allows his students to see that learning can be fun.
"This gives them an opportunity to see, 'well I'm learning about a function or I'm learning about how things should work,' now they get an opportunity to put that together and see it's hands-on learning."
The competition itself was the culmination of long hours of tireless effort; for months now, students have been constructing and coding (and competing with) specialized, disc-throwing robots.
The goal, as might be obvious, is to craft a robot that is able to throw, lob, or shoot discs into a disc golf basket within a set period of time.
This specific signature event is part of a larger set of competitions from the REC Foundation's VEX family of robotics programs; these programs span 70 countries and regularly involve more than a million students worldwide.
To learn more about how AFCEA impacts local STEM programs, click here.