Interior Helps Launch Pilot Robotics Program in Palau

Last edited 06/17/2020
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Tanya Harris Joshua 202-208-6008

WASHINGTON –  Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, this week announced $5,913.00 in fiscal year 2018 grant funding to the Coral Reef Research Foundation to support a three week “robotics” program for high school and community college students in Palau this summer.  The program will be led by Kevin Bowen, founder of “Porpoise Robotics”.

“Secretary Zinke and I are pleased to be able to join in helping to launch a pilot robotics educational program in Palau this summer,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech.  “We are proud to support researchers, teachers, and administrators in Palau who work hard to provide additional opportunities for the learning and development of students in Palau.”

The Coral Reef Research Foundation in Palau will host the training.  Teachers and teaching assistants will be the targeted trainees during the first week.  Students with an interest in robotics, science, and engineering will be the targeted trainees for the second and third weeks.  Students and teachers alike will learn hands-on building skills, design electronic circuits, write C++ code, and invoke computational thinking to create a “Land Shark” ground vehicle through the process of "mechatronics" (electro-mechanical devices controlled by computers).  It is estimated that this pilot program will reach at least 36 students and a dozen teachers.  The project team views this as a pilot program and hopes to gauge interest to tailor future robotics educational programs in Palau, including underwater robotics.

Last month while on official travel to Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, Assistant Secretary Domenech announced a $241,675 technical assistance grant for continuation of the Yap Robo League and expansion to include students from the islands of Weno (Chuuk) and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia for academic year 2018-2019. 

Funding for both programs has been provided through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program.  Applications are submitted from October through May 1st each year.  Funds are awarded once OIA receives appropriations from the U.S. Congress until the funds are exhausted.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees Federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA supports the Secretary's mission of Fulfilling Trust and Insular Responsibilities through balancing efforts and limited resources towards stronger economic and health capacities, and fiscal accountability in the U.S. insular areas.

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