December 4, 2023

TPP Gets Tour of RoboBees’ New Hive

Hive RoboBees

Board members from the The Patuxent Partnership recently toured the Hive, the new home of growingSTEMS and the RoboBees, in Hollywood.

TPP has supported the RoboBees for more than 20 years, during which time the RoboBees have won over 38 awards, including Chairman’s Awards, Engineering Inspiration Awards, and Event Winners awards.

TPP board members were joined April 26 by Erik Wood, RoboBees director of programs; Zach Stachelczyk, lead mechanical mentor; Tim Miedzinski, lead robot mentor; and Andrew Koch, lead media mentor. Mr. Stachelczyk and Mr. Miedzinski were both on the RoboBees team when they were in high school and are now giving back to the RoboBees.

What was once a suite of offices, the Hive is currently being transformed into areas for workshops, equipment storage, multimedia technology, workspace for building and testing prototypes, and meeting facilities for four tiers of programs: Vex Go, grades 3 through 4; Vex IQ, grades 5 through 7, FTC (First Tech Challenge), grades 7 through 10, and FRC (First Robotics Competition) grades 9 through 12.

RoboBeesIn the photo above, from right to left, are Bonnie Green, executive director of the The Patuxent Partnership; Kee Abell, director of the Strategic Education Office for NAWCAD; Andrew Koch, growingSTEMS secretary/treasurer of the RoboBees and NAWCAD engineering psychologist; Mr. Stachelczyk, growingSTEMS vice chairman of the RoboBees and NAWCAD WOLF IC2&I project engineer; Mr. Miedzinski, growingSTEMS secretary/treasurer; Mr. Wood, NAWCAD PMA 259 systems engineer; and Tom Phelan, director of Air Vehicle Operating Unit, KBR.

The RoboBees Team 836 is a robotics team located in St. Mary’s County, MD. FIRST, an international educational nonprofit organization, was founded by inventor and engineer Dean Kamen in 1989 and runs robotics competitions for children in grades K-12 worldwide. The RoboBees team, one of several thousand FRC worldwide, was created in 2001 by David Buddenbohn, a teacher at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown.

The Forrest center’s diverse student body pulls from seven different schools, including home-schooled students. Its proximity to Naval Air Station Patuxent River means that the engineering culture of the Pax workforce has permeated into the organization of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians who work for local defense contractors and for the Navy at Pax.

This unique culture has resulted in a team that is successful both on and off the field. This year, The RoboBees participated in the Infinite Recharge At-Home Skills Competition, based in part on the 2020 competition. The RoboBees were the only finalists from Maryland and one of the top three teams in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, region.

growingSTEMS, the local nonprofit founded by members of the RoboBees to support the local programs, inspires students to study STEM topics and helps young adults to pursue STEM-related fields in college, through scholarship, support, and outreach. It serves as part of the STEM pipeline.

The RoboBees team has also implemented some changes in how it trains students to “bee the best they can bee.” During the research and development, new Bees went through comprehensive courses designed to teach them about FIRST, the team history, safety, and other topics.

Sounds interesting?

Reach out to learn how to get involved as students or mentors. The Robobees and growingSTEMS will host a student open enrollment event June 19. Visit the growingSTEMS/RoboBees website for more information or to make a donation.

About The Patuxent Partnership

The Patuxent Partnership is a nonprofit member organization that fosters collaboration between government, industry, and academia to advance education through STEM-based initiatives; to advance technology through speaker programs, forums, and networking; to advance science and technology transfer through the exchange of ideas, information, and data related to technologies; and to increase workforce development through an array of initiatives.

To learn more about The Patuxent Partnership and its programs, visit its Leader member page.

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