Robotics helps promote STEM; manufacturing

The crowd yelled, “Dream It! Do It!” back and forth before the last match at the Dream It. Do It. Central Minnesota VEX Robotics Tournament in St. Cloud. Throughout the day, the Dream It. Do It. message was shared as the announcers shared fun facts about manufacturing careers and the industry in Minnesota and the United States with participants and spectators. Throughout the VEX season, different teams had opportunities to visit colleges for scrimmages, tour colleges’ manufacturing programs, and learn more about opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and manufacturing.

After the VEX season ended, 360 surveyed team members, parents, and coaches to learn what they thought about the VEX program and the impact robotics had on how they viewed manufacturing.

Both adults and students enjoyed working VEX Robotics: they all indicated they were satisfied with VEX and almost 100% said they would recommend the VEX Robotics program.

Youth perceptions

Because of their participation in VEX (either competing in scrimmages, tournaments, or both):

  • 97% said they felt more confident in their ability to learn STEM subjects
  • 84% said they would take an elective STEM course in high school
  • 85% said they would considering studying STEM subjects in college
  • 84% said they would consider a STEM career
  • 75% said their participation made them more interested in manufacturing
  • 63% said they would consider a career in manufacturing

Participants also felt they learned about design, building to specifications, and working with materials. When indicating what skills they learned, working by trial and error, problem solving, and teamwork were all rated highly.

Adult perceptions

Among the teachers, coaches, and parents surveyed, because of the VEX program:

  • 97% felt more positive toward STEM careers
  • 96% felt more positive towards manufacturing careers
  • 97% thought that youth were more confident in their ability to learn STEM subjects
  • 90% thought youth were more likely to pursue a manufacturing career

Adults also thought that youth learned the trial and error process, problem solving, and teamwork.

Although there is still room to improve youth’s interest in manufacturing careers, we are making progress in changing perceptions of manufacturing and building the future pipeline. 360 has already started planning next year’s events using the survey results and looking at how we can continue to share the Dream It. Do It. message and promote careers in advanced manufacturing.

Interested in learning more about VEX Robotics, starting a team, supporting the program, or volunteering? Contact Jessica Gehrke, Communications Specialist at 218-755-2209 or jgehrke@bemidjistate.edu.