AT&T awards OBU $8,000 for STEM initiative

By Chelsea Weeks, Assistant Features Editor

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OBU Photo by Jeremy Scott

“Robotics combines together computer science, engineering, math and physics. It’s a perfect applied sciences field,” Dr. Renita Murimi, Assistant Professor of Computer Information Science, said.

Oklahoma Baptist University hosted a ceremony on Feb. 17 to thank AT&T for their contributing check of $8,000. This check was presented to OBU to help the advancement of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) initiative, which includes Summer Institute camps and VEX Robotics Competitions.

Dec. 3 was the first time a VEX Robotics Competition was hosted in Shawnee. Throughout the state of Oklahoma, 50 robotics teams gathered at the Recreation and Wellness Center (RAWC) to compete against each other using robots that they created.

The grant was able to increase motivation for participates to come by waiving the registration fee for the first 10 teams to register, give out bags to students, have a spare robots table and give a cash prize.

“I’m not sure that we’d be able to do it every year without this kind of sponsorship,” Murimi said.

In order to host the competition, OBU first had to contact Kirk Norrid, the Regional Support Manager for Robotics Education and Competition Foundation in the state of Oklahoma.

Norrid and David Bandy, a third-party vendor who supplied all the robotics equipment, toured the RAWC to see if it would qualify to have the competition.   

“They wanted to make sure that OBU has enough space to host as many playing fields tables for all of the incoming teams,” Murimi said.

The goal of VEX Robotics competition is to teach students a large array of skills ranging from engineering skills to teamwork skills.

OBU hopes to help by being able to continue to host VEX Robotics Competitions.

“Our plan is to expand this; eventually we want to be able to host the state competition. We’re working on making this a recurring event,” Murimi said.

Emily Chadwick, a freshman business management major, volunteered at the VEX Robotics Competition. Her job was to keep score during the Star Struck game.

“I gained more respect and interest in robotics,” Chadwick said. “This can be a very cool and fun environment to learn about stuff that can help and lead to a career. That was really cool.”

Not only did this impact the students, but it also impacted the public.

“The response from the OBU community was overwhelmingly positive,” according to the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation.

The foundation also states that there are more than 16,000 teams from 40 countries in over 1,350 competitions worldwide. Now, OBU is added to that list.

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