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Posted: 08/20/14

TRW GRANT. Above, from left, TRW Automotive Program Manager Jessica Abey presents a check to Romeo High School Principal Mike Kaufman, Romeo Engineering and Technology Center Assistant Principal Natalie Davis and Byting Bulldogs Team Mentor Dan Gardner.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

TRW gives $3,500 to RCS for robotics, printer

Observer Staff Writer
      A Washington Township-based company is encouraging students to pursue science and technology careers with its third-annual donation.
       TRW Automotive presented $3,500 to Romeo Community Schools on Aug. 14 to bolster Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
       Romeo High School Principal Mike Kaufman emphasized the importance of the financial support from TRW and other entities in the community for the district's programs.
       "Partnerships with great companies like TRW really do us a great service because we could not operate the programs and offer our kids what we do," he said.
       As with past donations, a portion of the grant will support the robotics program. The Romeo robotics team, known as the Byting Bulldogs, will use the grant to buy materials for constructing a robot to compete in the For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics competition.
       Dan Gardner, team mentor and former head coach, said the donations are crucial since the kits they receive for the competition are sparse.
       "It's just what all these corporations had said ‘we'll give this to FIRST robotics and distribute it to the teams,'" he said. "We use some of the kit parts and items, some of them we have to buy our own materials to do the things we want to do."
       The second portion of the grant will purchase a 3D printer. Drafting, architectural and mechanical design and alternative energy instructor Evva Dossin applied for the grant.
       Natalie Davis, assistant principal at the Romeo Engineering and Technology Center, said the printer will be used for all of Dossin's programs.
       A 3D printer can create three-dimensional objects based on electronic data such as computer-aided design software.
       Gardner said the printer allows students to design a gear, for instance, and actually create the gear based on their designs without having to go to machining.
       "A lot of the robotics teams are buying 3D printers now because we want a prototype fast," he said. "You want to try stuff you design before you go and cut something out in metal, which takes a lot of time and expertise."
       He said he could see its applications in his electronics class, giving students a chance to actually build something instead of relying on schematics.
       The printer provides real-word education as well. Jessica Abey, program manager at TRW and a team mentor for the Byting Bulldogs, said TRW uses 3D printers for testing out parts for concepts.
       "We use them extensively here," she said.
       Abey, a Romeo High School graduate, said TRW's goal with the grants is to encourage students to check out fields like science and engineering.
       "It's good to get kids in the community involved and interested in STEM," she said. "They're the future employees for our industry."
       The encouragement appears to be working. Gardner said in the robotics program alone, nine out of 10 graduating seniors pursue a degree in a STEM field such as engineering or computer science, often with the aid of scholarships.
       "Our results have been spectacular so far," he said.
       Last year's donation of $3,000 went toward the physics department for new analytical technology and to the robotics program.
       In its first year, $3,000 was given to purchase Qwizdom hardware for the science program, while $1,000 went to the Byting Bulldogs.
       TRW Automotive, which also has a Romeo facility, manufactures safety systems like airbags, seat belts and steering wheels.

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