Georgia TAG Appreciates AutomationDirect’s Commitment to STEM!

At the 3rd Annual STEM Education Awards event held at the International Trade and Convention Center in Savannah Georgia, AutomationDirect was named the 2014 Corporate Outreach STEM Education Award winner for the state of Georgia by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). AutomationDirect’s Tina Gable, Chip McDaniel and Rick Folea were on hand to accept the award.

AutomationDirect’s STEM Outreach

AutomationDirect’s STEM outreach coordinators Chip McDaniel and Rick Folea are excited to share this award with school students. “We love being recognized with this distinction, but the truth is, we really enjoy seeing the look in students’ eyes when they get excited about learning and focused on a technology oriented career,” says McDaniel. “The student’s attitude changes from ‘Why do I have to learn this stuff?’ to ‘I NEED to learn this stuff,’ when exposed to the extracurricular programs we support. Playing a part in that transformation is awesome,” says Folea.

AutomationDirect promotes STEM education on the local community level, as well as the state, region and national levels with support, supplies, mentors and volunteers for FIRST Lego League Robotics, VEX Robotics, BEST Robotics, VEX Robotics, FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), VEX-IQ Robotics, Boy Scout summer camps and STEM Merit Badge Development.  The focus of these activities include: competitive robotics, programming, digital technology and animation, science fairs, technology fairs, university technology labs, and the Georgia Technology Student Association (TSA).  We have representation on the GeorgiaFIRST Board of Directors, the Forsyth County Workforce Advisory Council and the GeorgiaFIRST planning committee.

 
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AutomationDirect also employs student interns to expose them to technology related careers.  As an active member of the Forsyth Workforce Advisory Council, AutomationDirect is working with local schools to pilot the new Georgia Manufacturing Pathway.

Working with the Forsyth County Public Schools, AutomationDirect has built one of the largest competition robotics communities of its kind in the US.  These extra-curricular robotics programs generate excitement for STEM learning and rekindle student engagement in the classroom. Because of this enthusiasm, Forsyth County has also established dedicated STEM academies in the school system.

AutomationDirect simply provides the support to get things started. Once the school’s administration, the PTA, and the Board of Education see the incredible enthusiasm generated by the students and how it impacts the students’ engagement in the classroom, they begin investing in these programs and the initiative spreads throughout the schools.  Some schools have more than a dozen competition robotics teams that are entirely self-sustaining.

 
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And since we start the students in elementary school, they feed the middle schools, which then feed the high schools with highly qualified STEM engaged students. Last year one of the schools brought home the First Place award for their division at the World Championships!

The program is now eight years old, so the original students have had time to finish high school and college. Graduates from the Forsyth Alliance-supported programs are now working at Amazon, Apple, Schlumberger, Military Robotics, and private startups.  “We have even hired some of those original students to work here at AutomationDirect!  The program has truly come full circle and AutomationDirect couldn’t be more pleased with the way it has worked out,” concludes Tina.