Fordham University has received a $670,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop robotics research and education in The Bronx. The grant, which became effective on Sept. 30, was secured by U.S. Rep. Jose E. Serrano, D-N.Y.
The money will be used to purchase equipment for the University’s Robotics and Computer Vision Laboratory (in the Department of Computer and Information Science), the RETC—Center for Professional Development, and the Science and Technology Entry Program/Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP/C-STEP).
“I am very pleased to support the great work that Fordham is doing both in the classroom and the community,” said Rep. Serrano. “This grant is an investment in scientific education which will have short and long term results. I look forward to watching as it exposes students to new areas of study and challenges them to reach for new achievements. I also look forward to continuing to partner with Fordham in new ways to serve our community.”
“We are deeply grateful for Rep. Serrano’s help in securing this grant,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “His leadership in this is an example of what Jesuits mean when they say ‘men and women for others.’ By securing these funds, Representative Serrano ensures Fordham can continue to support critically important science and mathematics education in Bronx high schools.”
Local high school students and their teachers will be introduced to new technologies that will support them in teaching and learning the New York State Regents’ standard STEM disciplines. In particular, the teachers will be trained in using robotics technology to help their students get a ‘hands-on’ feel for STEM topics.
“Each program seeks to enhance its education and research capabilities, providing opportunities for teachers and students in Bronx area high schools to become involved with the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math),” said Damian M. Lyons, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science and director of the Robotics and Computer Vision Laboratory.
The proposal came about as Fordham sought federal funding for programs that would further the University’s mission of service. Fordham’s intention to expand its existing science community on campus to the surrounding communities coincided with the Congressman’s desire to address the educational needs of local students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Two months into the contract, Lyons has used $119,000 to buy the first set of robots and control computers for the program. Lyons has already organized a preview of the program for the RETC’s Annual Bronx Technology Collaborative for Bronx parents, students and teachers.
Eventually, the University hopes to build a state-of-the-art science facility, of which computer and information science will be a vital component.
“Fordham’s commitment to addressing teaching, research and student learning allows the University to demonstrate academic ingenuity that currently exists on campus,” said Lesley Massiah, assistant vice president for government relations, who developed the proposal for the grant.