According to a report from WalletHub, “Baltimore ranks at No. 10 among 100 metro areas in friendliness toward science, technology, engineering and math professions.”

STEM fields continue to see an increase in demand year over year. This inspired the Port Covington Development team to launch a pilot robotics speaker series to connect STEM professionals with students in the robotics clubs at three South Baltimore public schools. Ready Robotics, a local startup headquartered in Port Covington’s City Garage, is the first partner in this initiative.

Job Bedford, an engineer at Ready Robotics, holds a master’s degree in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and teaches electronics and robotics classes at The Foundery. Bedford met with the robotics clubs at Maree G. Farring Elementary and Middle School, Westport Academy Elementary and Middle School and Lakeland Elementary and Middle School for a series of talks about both his personal and work experiences from working with NASA to coaching robotics teams.

Bedford is passionate about engaging younger audiences and students interested in the STEM fields. Bedford said, “It’s been wonderful interacting with young minds and getting a glimpse into how they view robotics and current technology. Their perspectives are refreshing. It’s been a joy telling them stories and showing them the freedom of creativity that comes with robotics.”

Students in attendance at the speaker series at Westport Academy were also members of the LET’S GO First Lego League Team who competed at the Regional Qualifier on January 13th, 2018. The competition involved building, testing, and programming a robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions in a game. Throughout preparing for the competition, students not only learned about computer science and engineering, but through the challenge were also able to improve their teamwork and problem-solving skills.

“Having a professional in Robotics like Job speak to these students is immensely valuable as it was able to show them that a career in Robotics is achievable if they work hard,” said Baltimore Area STEM Director for LET’S GO Boys & Girls Debbie Dininno.

Dininno continued to say, “The impact of a STEM professional taking the time to visit and talk to youth is not lost on them. One of our 8th grade students commented, ‘I think it’s cool that they take time out of their day to come speak to us.’”

LET’S GO is a regional non-profit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty through STEM education and workforce development.

Job Bedford has also volunteered to provide free classes for the students at The Foundery so they can continue to study and learn more about basic circuits and electricity, Arduino computing platform basics and coding, and how to solder wires beyond the discussions.

Check back regularly to learn more about the Robotics Speaker Series.