Waiākea High School Robotics Program

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Robert K. Lindsey, Jr., Trustee, Hawai‘i Aloha nui kākou! In our last article, we shared information regarding the Academies at Waiākea High School. We wanted to focus on one of the Academies this month. The following is taken straight from the school’s website.

“The Business, Engineering, Sciences & Technology (BEST) Academy encourages the pursuit and perseverance in the careers of Business, Engineering, Sciences and Technology with work-based knowledge and experience, as well as a strong academic foundation so our students become contributing members of society.”

The BEST Academy has a great story to tell in terms of the success of its students. In today’s academic world, success is usually measured by students being accepted and attending college to continue their studies. Since 2015, many students from the BEST Academy were accepted to go to different colleges. Some of these colleges were here in Hawaiʻi, but others were on the mainland. In this day and age success can also be determined by what students decide to do with their lives other than going to college.

Waiākea High School teachers have tried to track students who have chosen to forego the traditional college route. That is a little more difficult, but to the teachers’ best knowledge, since 2015 a few students have gone on to different types of technology jobs. A few of these places of employment are technology companies scouring the country for its best and brightest. Some of these employees come from our very own Hawai‘i island. Our Waiākea High School teachers believe that we may continue to see students go straight into the technology workforce in the future as colleges may not be able to keep up with the rapidly changing areas of the technology field. Some companies are willing to train these brand-new employees in order to get them up to speed and then place them into their new jobs.

Robotics has been a successful program at Waiākea High School for at least a decade. Robotics students have achieved much in different competitions both here in Hawai‘i and abroad. However, this program, and others, depend heavily on outside sources of funding for its success.

The robotics program struggled in its early years to secure outside grant funding to support students and its programs. Some say that grant funding is open to all and you just need to have a great application in order to receive a grant. Others say that unless the potential funder is on your island, it can be difficult to obtain a grant no matter how good your application is. Whatever the case may be, it was a tough time for them as they tried to secure grant funding.

They never gave up and eventually became quite successful in obtaining grant funding to really boost their robotics program to the next level. One of the biggest funders, if not the biggest funder, is the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). There are those who express that the TMT tries to “buy” community support by funding STEM scholarships or programs. Yet those who receive support for their STEM scholarships or programs are appreciative of the funding granted to them by the TMT. No matter what your position is regarding the TMT, the fact remains that they are able to fund STEM scholarships and programs and the Waiākea High School robotics program has definitely benefited and grown from this type of funding support. We want to congratulate the Waiākea High School robotics program on their accomplishments and wish them continued funding and program success. Aloha!