UHV receives $32,000 grant from Alcoa Foundation
The University of Houston-Victoria will offer opportunities to area middle school and high school students to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields thanks to ongoing support from Alcoa Foundation.
Alcoa Foundation recently awarded the university a $32,000 grant to fund the UHV College of Natural & Applied Science’s annual outreach programs, including the UHV Math & Robotics Awareness Day, several computer science and robotics summer camps and a year-long after-school robotics class. Thanks to the grant, UHV is able to offer the camps and activities free of cost.
“Alcoa Foundation’s support of UHV is extremely special and has impacted so many students over the years,” said Amber Countis, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. “The generosity and belief in us particularly to help encourage young people to explore computer science and STEM activities is inspiring. Alcoa Foundation’s support of UHV dates back nearly 40 years, they have been with UHV almost since the beginning. We are truly grateful for the longevity and partnership and the countless lives that have been transformed with their gifts.”
Thanks to the grant funds, UHV has been able to purchase VEX IQ robotics kits. The kits are made in Texas and offer more agile learning opportunities for students. The robots are programmable through multiple program languages, which allows UHV to use simpler languages when teaching middle school students and more complicated C++ language when teaching high schoolers. The robot kits also have more versatile building options, including the ability to 3D print new parts for specific tasks. Part of the grant funds will go toward supplies for the 3D printers, said Amjad Nusayr, a UHV associate professor of computer science.
“UHV has had the chance to connect with many students through the STEM programs supported by Alcoa Foundation,” Nusayr said. “This year’s grant funds will allow us to purchase the tools we need to continue that effort and show even more students the benefit of STEM fields in today’s world.”
The first STEM program that UHV will offer during the 2023-2024 academic year will be the year-long programming, robotics and simulation course. During this course, up to 12 high school students will learn VEX programming using C-style programming languages; how to develop and apply algorithms to solve computing problems; how to use the science they learn in programming and apply it to create multiple robotics projects; and gain critical thinking abilities by motivating students to think outside the box and create separate individual solutions to a problem. At the end of the course, students will put together research projects using the lab and state-of-the-art robotics and sensor kits. The projects will be presented during the annual UHV Math & Robotics Awareness Day.
In addition to the year-long course, UHV Math & Robotics Awareness Day will be held in April or May of 2024. The event will allow about 150 high school students to spend a day at UHV learning about different STEM fields through breakout sessions, expo booths and competitions.
In the summer, UHV will offer four summer camps focused on computer programming and robotics. High school students will be able to apply to attend a robotics summer camp or a virtual data science boot camp. Middle school students can apply to attend an Arduino computer programming camp and a computer science camp.
For more information about UHV’s STEM activities and summer camps, go to www.uhv.edu/stem-events.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 50 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.