When Dr. Andrew Williams began teaching at Spelman College three years ago, he had a hunch that science and engineering students at the all-female and private historically Black college would flock to the study of robotics not unlike the science and engineering students who gravitate to the growing field at the top research institutions. Not only did Williams guess right, it turns out that his teaching and research efforts in the subject would help spark a robotics education movement that now extends from the Atlanta-based women’s college to several historically Black colleges and universities.
Helping out in the effort are scientists from major research universities, such as Dr. David Touretzky, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Williams and Touretzky are the principal investigator and co-principal investigator, respectively, of the Advancing Robotics Technology for Societal Impact (ARTSI) Alliance project. With support from a three-year, $2 million grant by the National Science Foundation announced this past fall, ARTSI will help fund a second wave of robotics education at eight historically Black schools and stimulate outreach efforts at the K-12 level.
“The ARTSI program builds upon the work others and I have been doing to offer HBCU students robotics and computer science education,