TVA Fosters Next Generation of STEM Experts

A recent TVA/MLGW Student Robotics Showcase in Memphis gave young STEM robotics experts a chance to shine.

TVA’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program is supporting kids who build robots. The recent MLGW/TVA Student Robotics Showcase was a chance for featured students to tout their talents and creative ingenuity at the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division—the region’s largest utility.

The event created a hands-on math and science experience that highlighted the universal career fundamentals of teamwork, critical thinking, presentation skills and technical writing. Traditionally, these types of learning opportunities for youth in robotics technology have been limited to only theoretical application.

TVA’s Mark Creech learns from a student at the MLGW/TVA Student Robotics Showcase. “TVA is proud to partner with MLGW for such an awesome event benefiting Memphis youth, who are the workforce of tomorrow,” he said.

The Robotics Showcase, however, gave robotic program participants like computer coder Andrew Rutledge the mechanical and technical experience most often reserved for college or expensive career training programs. Rutledge is a senior at White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee, and plans to pursue a career as a micro-mechanical engineer.

“A lot of people don’t go into mechanical engineering with technical experience. They just know they like math or science,” Rutledge said. “Being able to actually go into a job and have some type of technical background is really valuable. I think this program is really going to help me in the long run.”

Robotics expert Charles Spencer of Tennessee Valley Robotics agrees. He believes events like the Robotics Showcase are bridge builders to a brighter future for all young students.

“What’s become important in education today is the hands-on part of learning, and robotics programs allow students to put together code and learn through trial and error,” Spencer said. “These programs instill an excitement in education, promote teamwork and teach children to express themselves. They’re just great learning experiences for any school.”

Robot mom, Lien Nguyen agrees. “My sons absolutely love it,” she said. “My youngest son actually gives his teammates [robotics] homework over the weekend!”

TVA’s partnership with MLGW is just one example of how STEM is creating an exciting learning environment for students that ultimately fosters the skills required for success in the ever-changing tech world.

“This is an exciting time for education in West Tennessee. For companies like TVA and MLGW, this is where their future employees will come from,” Spencer said. “The more we can get behind the next generation, the better off we’ll be.”