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New partnership aims to foster kids’ interest in science and technology

A new partnership between a Hauppauge robotics firm and the Long Island Science Center will foster curriculum and programs to help young people prepare to enter the workforce, Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio announced earlier this week.
ULC Robotics will incorporate robotics, drones, 3D printing and Augmented Reality programs with those offered at the Long Island Science Center through on-site classes, mentoring, field trips to their development facility in Hauppauge and programs in both Riverhead schools and homeless shelters.
Ms. Giglio said in a statement that the public-private partnership provides a bright future for Long Island students.
“I am dedicated to advance and support our youth by creating a path to high paying local jobs that will provide youth with options to raise a family here,” she said, adding that the collaboration serves to fulfill a mutual goal of creating a skilled “workforce pipeline” for the Enterprise Park at Calverton.
ULC Robotics is one of three technology companies that attended a Riverhead Town work session in October that pitched plans to eventually work at the EPCAL.
According to Calverton Aviation & Technology attorney Chris Kent, ULC provides robotic field inspection services to utility and energy companies throughout the northeast and United Kingdom and has 127 employees.
CEO Gregory Penza told town officials that ULC is developing a “vertical take-off and landing fixed wing, unmanned aircraft that has a 10-foot wingspan, can fly at 55 mph and can stay in flight for five to seven hours with a 10-pound payload.”
They hope to build these aircraft at EPCAL and envision the aircraft being used on off-shore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean.
“As technological innovation continues to play a critical role in both the local and global economies, we need to foster curiosity and excitement surrounding [science, technology, engineering and mathematics],” Mr. Penza said in a statement. “By working with Councilwoman Giglio and the Long Island Science Center, our goal is to help spark creativity and engage in children from a young age, allowing them to establish a passion for technology that can translate into lifelong careers.”
The Long Island Science Center, founded in 1990, returned to Riverhead earlier this year in a 2,000-square-foot space downtown. Executive director Cailin Kaller said she’s grateful for the opportunity to broaden their offerings.
Ms. Kaller said that STEM interest needs to be sparked at an early age. She said that by high school, 36% of boys and 11% of girls are interested in STEM fields, while a 2017 study by Junior Achievement and Ernst & Young shows that 91% of teenagers know what kind of job they want after they finish high school.
“This is a problem for education and the future workforce,” Ms. Kaller said. “We need STEM education to develop the next generation of innovators and to train our future workforce. Breaking down STEM barriers and sparking early interest is essential.”
Tia Fulford, a Riverhead native who founded the Butterfly Effect Project in 2014, said she’s partnered with the science center in the past and is excited to continue.
“In a world where girls are having to fight a little harder to be seen, heard, and respected it is incredible that The Butterfly Effect Project is being given this opportunity to crush stigma and explore the endless possibilities of what science and their mind can muster up,” Ms. Fulford said.
Photo caption: Students at the Long Island Science Center in August. (Credit: Tara Smith)
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