BY: JONATHAN BISSONNETTE
Reed, officials, pay Central Falls High School a visit ahead of $5K robotics grant
CENTRAL FALLS — On a given day at Central Falls High School, you can find sophomore Rasec Torres and freshman Marcus Baptista in Alison Murray’s physics and engineering class, programming and designing their robots.
"It’s a relief to see your hard work has paid off,” Bapitsta said while looking at the robot from inside the classroom Friday afternoon. “It feels really good when it comes out the way you want it,” Torres added.
However, last Friday afternoon, Torres, Baptista, and their fellow classmates were showing off their robotics work for a group of special guests, including Sen. Jack Reed and Mayor James Diossa.
Reed and Diossa, along with AT&T New England President Patricia Jacobs were in attendance to discuss a $5,000 grant from AT&T which will allow the robotics program at Central Falls High to purchase additional equipment, including a 3-D printer.
Murray, a physics and engineering teacher and robotics mentor at Central Falls High, said that the students “love” the robotics, noting that this is the first year in which robotics are in the classroom.
Murray said there has been a “big push” among all grade levels at the high school to take the classes so they can participate in the robotics. A former industrial physicist who has been teaching for five years, Murray said that robotics teaches students a myriad of valuable skills, from programming to building and designing to teamwork and engineering.
“The students have been enthusiastic,” Murray said. “One said ‘You’re teaching us how to learn for jobs.’” Murray said that in her class, she also discusses her experiences and what students can do once they graduate and get out into the field.
“Nothing is more important than the experience,” Murray said. “Nothing is more important to their futures. It makes a difference … This is huge for them. This is the future. These are interesting, great-paying jobs. They’re learning how to program and they can take this and program anything.”
“It opens their eyes to engineering,” Murray added, saying that the grant from AT&T is “huge.”
Baptista said that he likes the experience you get from building and programming the robots. He said it is “perfect” for a resumé.
“I didn’t know much about it,” Baptista admits about his first days in the class. “I thought it was going to be crazy, intense stuff but it’s actually pretty simple once you’re into it.”
While Baptista said he is considering other avenues for a career after school, he said that programming and engineering is a good option.
Torres said that he enjoys working with robots in the classroom, as it is an experience “you don’t normally get in other schools.”
Torres said he was anticipating working with the robots from the moment he signed up for the class and has enjoyed it very much. Torres additionally said he has interest in becoming a chemical engineer and the class has “helped me to get the basics down.”
Diossa said that robotics are the future, saying that the high-tech education is beneficial in today’s schools.
“Having that support through funding makes it a reality here,” Diossa said. “I’ll be very excited to come down from City Hall to see what you’re doing with 3-D printers,” noting that he’d never before seen a 3-D printer in action.
Jacobs said she was honored to be at the school to help them celebrate the grant and the “fabulous program you’re participating in.”
“The fact that you’re doing this says a lot about you,” Jacobs said to the students. “My takeaway is that you’re really smart, insightful, and wise and you understand careers in science, technology, and math are a fabulous pathway to your future.”
Reed said he was “always delighted” to be in Central Falls.
“We’re here because you’re the future and the future demands more today than any other time in history,” Reed said. “We are in a high-tech age and what you’re doing is incredibly important for you but also important for our community and nation. We have to have talented, well-trained, experienced people with technical skills at every level of our economy.”
“You can make something useful and we also want people eager and willing to use it,” Reed added. “Put it all together and this is the future.”
Original Pawtucket Times article can be accessed here