CHamoru student launches nonprofit robotics program in the Midwest | Way of life
ndrew Jesus, CHamoru student and international robotics competitor, turns his passion into a mentorship program for students in the Midwest.
Jesus, who grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, is creating a non-profit organization called The National Robotics Academy Inc. with the goal of facilitating robotics competitions and making STEM educational opportunities more accessible to students across the kindergarten to 12th grade.
The 19-year-old is the grandson of Juan and Ellie Jesus of Asan, and the son of Stephen and Cathy Jesus of Bellevue, Nebraska. Her father is CHamoru, while her mother has Polish and Belgian roots.
The Iowa State University sophomore, who studies aerospace engineering and computer science, began creating the National Robotics Academy Inc. with fellow robotics competitors Avery Hoffmann and Troy Ogden in 2020.
In May, they submitted their bylaws and documents to a Nebraska state legislator and are waiting for the legislator to officially sign them.
“We just waited three months, so we’re actually behind schedule, but we’re still moving forward,” said Andrew Jesus. “We had a lot of support from our former competitors from previous schools.”
The National Robotics Academy Inc. will hold its first inaugural tournament on September 24, and it is determined that these participants continue with the Iowa State Championship. He also plans to hold STEM camps next summer.
It all started with Legos
His passion for robotics started after sixth grade when he joined a summer camp at a local high school.
“My mum is like, ‘Oh! You like Lego. Do you want to try that?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to try,'” he said. “From there, it all kind of started. In my seventh and eighth grade at St. Bernadette School in Bellevue, Nebraska, I was starting to compete full time.
“I treated robotics like another sport,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot in my school, but it’s time I never wanted to win.”
He and his teammates became a force to be reckoned with after reaching the state finals in Nebraska. Their win saw them enter the World Robotics Competition in Beijing in August 2017.
“I was three days out of my freshman year in high school, then I flew to China for 10 days,” he said. “We met a lot of nice people from there.”
“It allowed me to learn about networking and grow my relationships with robotics people and my colleagues here today who helped me found the National Robotics Academy Inc.”, he said .
Find a purpose
The long-time robotics competitor has nurtured relationships with his global competition peers over the years and eventually had the chance to collaborate on a project that would benefit students who lack access to educational resources in the field of robotics. the robotics.
“Going into senior year of high school, we’re all bored with COVID, not going to school and everything,” he said. “When we graduated, we started mentoring more and realized that this education factor is so much more important to us.”
During his freshman year of college, he started making Zoom calls to mentor teams of Nebraska high school students competing in statewide robotics competitions.
“It really paid off at our state championships last year, where all of our teams qualified,” he said. “We made state history at our school by being the program’s first consecutive state champions.”
“It’s a feeling of accomplishment when you see your team win against yourself competing there,” he said.
Now with the National Robotics Academy Inc., Andrew Jesus and his peers want to leverage their knowledge of robotics competitions to provide greater access for kids who can’t compete.
“I worked to get fundraising opportunities and sponsorships to make it as affordable for parents to let their kids do this,” he said. “We really want to start pushing state legislators to incorporate more hands-on STEM education.”
While busy with school and running his nonprofit, the robotics enthusiast found time to intern at Raytheon Technologies Corp. until December in Dallas.
He was assigned to the Mission Systems Branch to work with electrical and mechanical engineers on military aircraft technology. The company is globally recognized as a leading aerospace intelligence service provider and defense manufacturer.
“It was good there because I can see how the company structure works and how to work as a team,” he said. “I learned different methods of teamwork and how to really distribute the tasks that need to be done.”
More importantly, Raytheon has a few programs with nonprofits, so it spoke with key leaders to secure sponsorships and resources.
“Maybe they have an idea that I haven’t thought of, so it was really good as a wealth of knowledge to take in as much of it as possible and apply it to the National Robotics Academy Inc. “