Ashley Furniture Industries awarded more than $144,000 to enhance robotics education at local schools located near Ashley’s advanced manufacturing facilities throughout the country. Funds were awarded to schools based on their overall strategy for incorporating robotics into K-12 classroom curriculum or extra-curricular competition programs.
This donation will allow schools to purchase VEX Robotics equipment to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education with innovative, age-appropriate equipment. Students in grades K-12 will now have the opportunity to design and build their own robot with snap-together pieces and then watch their creation come to life as they apply the basic principles of programming to their robot. VEX Robotics is a leading provider of educational and competitive robotics products to schools around the world.
“STEM education is essential to ensure today’s youth develop critical computational thinking skills needed to succeed in both the 21st century’s workforce and in everyday life,” said Todd Wanek, president and CEO of Ashley Furniture Industries. “Beyond STEM principles, robotics also teaches students creativity, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills – which is why we are proud to have donated more than $400,000 to robotics education across the country since 2017.”
“This donation allows us to upgrade our equipment and increase the number of students we can offer this program to,” explained Arcadia Technology Education Teacher John Peterson. “As VEX continues to adapt and change their equipment to better the student’s interest and abilities, it also makes the students excited to learn about robots. This excitement sparks an interest in the high-demand career field of automation and mechatronics.”
The benefiting local school districts include:
School District of Arcadia, Cochrane-Fountain City School District, School District of Eleva-Strum School, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District, Whitehall School District, School District of Mondovi, Independence School District, and St. Mark Lutheran School.
Ashley actively participates in and supports numerous K-12 and post-secondary education partnerships across the country. Combined efforts have included investing in STEM-based learning opportunities, scholarships, providing students with exposure to technical trades and career opportunities, instructor training, and robotics programs. Ashley believes, that as manufacturing continues to advance and the global economy evolves, training and educating our current and future workforce will be a crucial part of our country’s success.