Volume 20 Issue 12 | August. 3 - 9, 2007

College wins robotics grant

The Borough of Manhattan Community College announced this week that it received a grant of $190,000 from the National Science Foundation to fund an educational robotics program.  The school hopes the program encourages more minority students to enter the fields of computer programming and physics and, more importantly, encourage those already within the field to continue pursuing it.

“One of the things we’re concerned about is retention,” said Todd Flyr, a professor in the college’s Computer Information Systems Department. “More than recruitment, we’re really trying to keep students who have expressed interest in the subject, but then find difficulty. A lot of these people still enjoy working with the physical devices, so we try to find activities for them that they want to willingly spend extra time on.”

Flyr has also worked with high school students before, and said his presentations on robotics generate a lot of interest.

“We actually had some robotics kits we let [the high school students] use and there were a lot of hands on those devices,” he said.

Mete Kok, also a computer professor, said B.M.C.C. is trying to recruit students through its relationship with the high schools, and encourage more students to enter the fields known as STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Antonio Perez, B.M.C.C.’s president, said in a prepared statement: “It is one thing to learn the function of an algorithm on paper, in an abstract sense, but it is quite another to see how it can be applied to building something tangible and kinetic, such as a robot.”

— Jennifer Milne

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