A new home for Streamworks

Matthew Lane • Jan 27, 2019 at 12:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Students will soon have a new place to fly their drones, build their LEGOs creations and test their robotic mettle.

Streamworks will soon open its new STEM Gym at 200 Lynn Garden Drive in Kingsport, in the old Mullins Company office building. Streamworks, powered by the Eastman Foundation, is an educational program that offers K-12 students a chance to participate in STEM-related activities.

Here are a few of the programs offered by Streamworks:

- First LEGO: Students design, build and program a robot using LEGO Mindstorms, then compete on a tabletop playing field.

- Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE): Here, the robots are going underwater. Students of all ages design and build remotely operated underwater vehicles to tackle missions modeled after scenarios from the ocean workplace.

- MultiGP: An exciting competition involving drones for students in grades 8 to 12. Middle and high school students build and fly their own drones to develop an innovative drone-based solution.

- Robot Drone League: The field is large, the game is longer, the robots are bigger and the drones are ready for action. This program is done without any hands-on help from parents, teachers or mentors.

“What we’re trying to show students is why STEM is so important,” said Dennis Courtney, executive director of Streamworks. “We have to show them what the digital age is going to look like in 20 years because in that time 40 percent of all jobs today will be eliminated.”

Today, the average student flounders for five to seven years after graduating college, which means these young adults are not earning up to their full potential. In Tennessee, this floundering is having a $1 billion economic impact on the state, Courtney said.

“It’s important to know that your career could be determined by your competency and approach to education at a young age. How you understand advanced math and engineering outside a traditional classroom,” Courtney said.

Right now, there’s a skills gap in the 21st century workforce with statistics showing that by next year, 65 percent of all jobs will require training beyond high school, Courtney said. At current enrollment rates, the United States will be short five million workers for these skilled careers.

One million computer science jobs alone will go unfilled next year because there’s not enough people coming through the pipeline to fill them, which is why Streamworks is reaching out to schools to afford them the opportunity to come into their facility and participate in its STEM activities.

“We want to work with all the kids and make sure they’re all welcome. We don’t want anyone to feel like it’s too tough,” Courtney said. “We want to show them they can do it too.”

If you’d like to visit Streamworks’ new facility, a Robot Drone League event will take place on Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Courtney said a spectator section will be set up.

For more information or to contact Courtney, visit streamworkseducation.org.

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