Every year, hundreds of students participate in the annual Robot Rally challenge at Cal Poly Pomona.
The Robotics Education through Active Learning (REAL) Program has provided for years a unique approach to confronting our national and local need for engineers by inspiring and engaging young students in engineering concepts through an age-appropriate robotics curriculum.
In part thanks to generous funding support from Time Warner Cable, REAL has become a program with a sustainable model that has served over 1,200 students at 15 local elementary schools. Previously, Time Warner Cable provided $15,000 in support, and this year donated another $25,000 so that even more students could be reached through the program.
REAL is not only creating interest in engineering, but it is doing so in a manner that is inclusive of typically under-represented students from all backgrounds. External funding has allowed the REAL Program to consistently achieve about 50% female student participation in a field that is at the national level only reporting 18.4% female participation within engineering (ASEE, 2011).
REAL is based on a critical component that follows Cal Poly Pomona’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy and provides key early exposure to students through hands-on curriculum. With research showing that early engineering exposure among K-12 students is crucial for increasing interest, the REAL Program places great emphasis on generating engineering interest early on in the K-12 pipeline. We hope that with continued support we will be able to increase the number of students we can reach and continue to inspire them to pursue engineering as a career option.