Program Inspires Schools And Businesses To Build Robots

"Raging Squid" moved gracefully across the stage. It's a robot made from metals, bolts and other gadgets. Technology students at Gulfport High School built the mobile piece of machinery in six weeks. Robots like "Raging Squid" were designed, built and put to the test in regional and national competitions.

Adam Barnett is a member of the robotics team at Gulfport High.

"It's fun! You just find that everyday, you think about coming back and working on this robot and seeing it move and being proud of what you do," Barnett said.

The students of "Team Fusion" showed-off their prized creation at a Mississippi Robotics Consortium at Stennis Space Center. The team's teacher wants more young people to feel the pride and excitement that comes with building a robot from scratch, and seeing it perform in competitions.

"It's provided them with the inspiration to follow careers in science and technology and engineering," David Fava said.

"It's really inspired me to make sure that I go into the engineering and science field, because I feel like I have an interest in that and a gift for that. Seeing what these people do, it makes me feel like I can do that," Adam Barnett said.

Engineers at Stennis have been donating their time and talents to help build "Raging Squid" and "Tidal Wave", a robot from Picayune High School. Stennis is encouraging more businesses and people in the community to get involved, so more schools can start a robotics program.

Wanda DeMaggio is the FIRST Robotics  Manager at Stennis.

"Students need to know that when they start this team, that the whole community is going to be behind them. It makes them very proud to belong to something that the community is behind," DeMaggio said.

"It gives them something to aspire to. They have role models that are not rock and roll rap stars, or movie stars. We're inspiring a whole new generation of young ladies and young men to do whatever they want to do, and not be held back by stereotypes," David Fava said.

A total of nine schools in Mississippi have a robotics program.