Carnegie Mellon University is putting $7 million into an education initiative called FIRE (Fostering Innovation through Robotics Exploration). It is designed to get kids and young adults interested in science and technology to combat the the decline in students pursuing degrees in computer science, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The FIRE program is even being sponsored by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) because as a nation, we are losing our strategic placement in the world when it comes to science and technology. According to Carnegie Mellon, “The number of U.S. college graduates with CS-STEM degrees is declining, raising concerns about national competitiveness. The trend is particularly pronounced in computer science, where the number of graduates dropped 43 percent from 2004 to 2007 and where women and minorities remain underrepresented.”
FIRE is developing new tools that help middle and high school students to expand their interest in robots, leading them from one Computer Science activity to the next. Examples are programming tools that create game-like virtual worlds where robot programs can be tested, as well as computerized tutors that teach mathematics and computer science in the context of robotics.
For more information on the FIRE project visit: www.fire.cs.cmu.edu.