Building bridges to the future

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Fourteen-year-old Ryan Herrmann wants to own a “big amusement park” someday, but he found a recent workshop at Hill School geared toward technology, engineering, science and math a blast.

“Go Freckles,” the Hill School student screamed as a robot he helped program performed an intricate maneuver on a course on the floor.

Herrmann joined several dozen students to explore the future of technology at one of two “Building Roberts/Building Bridges” workshops conducted by instructors from West Point Military Academy.

“I like technology a lot,” Herrmann said, adding that a bonus to the one-day workshop was “making new friends.”

“They’re excited. That’s the highest compliment we can get,” said Lt. Col. Donald A. Outing, a West Point math professor and director of the academy’s Center for Leadership and Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The STEM outreach program, established in 2009, involves faculty who travel across the country to give students a peek into the future. The program targets economically disadvantaged youth, underrepresented minorities and institutions like Hill School, a college preparatory, full-service school for students with unique learning needs.

Hill School principal Kathleen Edwards said the school offered the free one-day workshops on Aug. 8 and 9 to open new career possibilities for the students and other kids.

Program promoters say creativity and innovation are needed now more than ever. Mobile workshops are designed to cultivate a new cadre of creative minds to compete in the global economy.

Herrmann teamed with fellow student Brendan Myers, 12, programming a robot in the morning and building bridges for model trucks in the afternoon. Several contests were held and although it was all in fun, both students were competitive as they cheered on Freckles, named for the tiny commands on its computerized face.

“We did great. It was a new experience,” Myers said.

Girls are also a target audience, Outing said.

Audrey Nunes, 10, a home-schooled student from Colleyville, was an enthusiastic participant.

In addition to being fun, she said the workshop, “has given me a boost to be an engineer.”

Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367

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