STARKVILLE, Miss.–Mississippi students will receive a boost through a Caterpillar Foundation initiative to support K-12 education in science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM) through the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State.
Roberto Ortega, manager of the Caterpillar plant in Corinth, presented a $20,000 check to Dean Sarah Rajala to support the Bagley College’s efforts in introducing robotic engineering to area middle and high school students.
“We greatly appreciate the support that Caterpillar has given to our robotics programs,” said Eric Heiselt, director of K-12 Outreach in the Bagley College. “There cannot be true STEM education in Mississippi without a true partnership between educators and industry. As educators, we work to provide a community of problem solving citizens while industry continues to advance and provide employment opportunities. We must work hand in hand for community building.”
This most recent gift from the Caterpillar Foundation will support VEX Robotics and SeaPerch. A $10,000 gift was given last fall to support the Mississippi BEST Robotics Competition, which challenges student teams to build remote controlled robots that can complete a set task.
One of the college’s newer programs, VEX Robotics gives students the opportunity to work hands-on with robotic technology while building teamwork, leadership and problem solving skills. SeaPerch also provides hands-on learning, but with focuses on the unique challenges and opportunities that arise with underwater robotics applications.
Ortega said the Caterpillar Reman plants in Corinth and Booneville recognize the importance of investing in K-12 STEM programs as a way to develop a workforce that will help Mississippi continue to build the economy and attract high-paying jobs in the state.
In addition to the monetary support, Caterpillar also helps support MSBEST teams in the Corinth area, with employees providing team mentoring prior to the competition. Caterpillar has also incorporated a high school internship program in Corinth and Booneville to help students explore career opportunities in robotics and the company as a whole.
The Bagley College of Engineering is MSU’s third largest college with more than 3,000 students enrolled as of November 2012. It offers 10 undergraduate degree programs and 17 graduate degree programs through its eight departments. To learn more about the K-12 Outreach programs within the college, visit www.bagley.msstate.edu/outreach.