News: SPAWAR coaches LEGO robotics competition
Story by Nicole Collins
SAN DIEGO - Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) sponsored a LEGO league robotics For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) qualifying tournament at Eastlake High School Nov. 13.
Twenty-four teams competed Sunday with programmed autonomous LEGO robots for a chance to advance to the Southern California Championship.
FIRST LEGO league teams consist of 10 students who range from ages 9 to 14 and are tasked with building an autonomous programmed LEGO robot to solve real-world scientific and engineering challenges.
"I am really glad to see that our next generation here at Eastlake has a strong interest in learning, applying science and using teamwork to solve technical problems," said Rear Adm. Charles Rainey, SPAWAR deputy commander.
By the year 2020, it is estimated that half of the Navy's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce will be eligible for retirement.
"We need to generate interest in STEM education if we want to stay competitive," said Rainey. "We're in this business because we enjoy it and we enjoy helping our younger folks discover the excitement of innovation."
More than 100 SPAWAR employees routinely volunteer to support the command's nationwide robotics outreach program sponsored by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering STEM K-12 program under the National Defense Education program.
“SPAWAR volunteers greatly benefit from their interactions with the students, said Wanda Parise, SPAWAR robotics outreach coordinator. “They return to work inspired, believing that the next generation will continue their innovation in science and technology to benefit America.”
SPAWAR's robotics outreach program is primarily focused on interacting and mentoring students who have a strong interest in STEM and robotics.