Robotics team in Pitt County using STEM to learn and get national recognition

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, is becoming widespread in North Carolina.

Many students in the East are using STEM. Some to gain worldwide recognition.

One robotic team in Pitt County is doing just that. Engaging minds and applying what they learn in class to the real world is the theme.

“Suddenly, it’s not just textbooks and writing. It’s real world. Your math, turns into a robot,” said Bill McClung, coach of the Pitt Pirates.

Yes, a robot. The Pitt Pirates, a robotic team in Pitt County, just clinched a spot in an international robotic competition.

“It’s been my responsibility over the past two years or three years to build the entire electrical systems of the robot,” added Austin Lantz, senior and team captain.

Lantz is taking his STEM-based education to the next level. The Pitt Pirates are headed to St. Louis to compete against teams around the world.

“During the build season, we have a six-week period where students are given a challenge and they have to build the robot according to the challenge,” said Anne McClung, lead mentor of Pitt County Robotics.

They have to build the parts, assemble the machine, and calculate every turn.

Lantz talked 9 On Your Side through every step, “We take it off the cart. We lay it down. We push a button to turn it on, and then it takes about half-a-minute to start giving a signal, which that is a beeping signal. Plug in an ethernet cable to the driver station, then we click enable on a laptop and we’re ready to start controlling the robot.”

Building the robots is helping build the future.

“These kids need to have these skills to work in the future, so we’re doing everything we can to push the kids up. To really build their interest in STEM and science all of the things that will give them opportunities,” added Bill.

Opportunities like this exist right here in the east.

John Chaffee, CEO and president of NC East Alliance, says getting students involved in STEM creates a positive outlook for business in our area.

“In terms of our engagement with employers, is that they’re concerned about being able to find the talent that has the critical skills that they need to be able to operate their business,” said Chaffee.

That’s why STEM education and activates are paving the way to a bright future.

“Helping them make their education relevant so they understand, ‘Okay, what I’m learning in math class or what I’m learning in science class relates to a career and a job opportunity that exists not somewhere out in the world somewhere else, but in their own community,” said Chaffee.

Pitt Pirates 2642 is competing this weekend in the international competition.

Other schools in the area are incorporating STEM into their education. Forest Hills Middle School in Wilson County opened up a STEM lab this year.

Students at JH Rose High School in Greenville are part of a pilot program to bring STEM into the classroom.

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