JACKSON, Mich., Nov. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy is encouraging the next generation of engineers, scientists and workers in technology-related fields by providing more than $200,000 in financial support to robotics programs for students in Michigan this school year.
"We are committed to providing opportunities for today's students to explore science, technology, engineering and math fields," said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy's vice president for customer experience, rates and regulation.
"We know the chance to build robots for competitions and for fun can excite them to new possibilities and teach them skills that could even lead them to work someday for companies like ours."
This school year, the Consumers Energy Foundation is providing support that includes:
- $50,000 for middle school robotics teams.
- $30,000 for elementary and middle school robotics clubs in Kent County.
- $20,000 for Genesee County robotics clubs.
- $12,000 to support a partnership between Heart of Michigan Girl Scouts and FIRST in Michigan, a nonprofit organization that promotes clubs at the elementary, middle and high school levels, and organizes competitions.
- A second year of financial support for the high school robotics state competition.
The Consumers Energy Foundation, which is the company's philanthropic arm, provided an additional $75,000 in support for student-focused robotics activities during the 2013-14 school year. That included funding for more than 100 robotics teams at middle schools through FIRST in Michigan.
"There has been a huge increase in public interest in robotics, especially because it can encourage girls and young women to develop an interest in fields where they have been traditionally underrepresented," said Gail Alpert, president and secretary of FIRST in Michigan. "We are grateful for Consumers Energy's enthusiasm and support, which makes it possible for school-based teams to meet this growing demand."
Consumers Energy employees also have a personal connection to school-based robotics. Employees in the company's Women's Engineering Network provide mentorship and hands-on assistance to several school teams in the Jackson area. A Robotics Fair will take place in the Jackson area on Jan. 14, 2015, showcasing the work of robotics teams in cooperation with the Consumers Energy volunteer mentors.
The company's involvement in robotics also was on display during a recent All-Girls off-season FIRST Robotics high school competition in Bloomfield Hills. About 100 Junior Girl Scouts were invited to the school to learn, watch and build basic robots of their own with help from company employees, and those students and their parents were encouraged to start their own school teams.
Another FIRST robotics competition and outreach to Girl Scouts is scheduled for Nov. 22 at Columbia Central High School in Jackson County.
"It's gratifying to see the reaction from these Girl Scouts and from all students who are exposed to robotics. They see the real outcome from their work, and they are learning valuable technological skills," Poppe said. "Consumers Energy is proud and committed to working with FIRST in Michigan to continuing to provide more opportunities like this."
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
FIRST IN MICHIGAN: Learn more about FIRST in Michigan: www.firstinmichigan.org
CARING FOR COMMUNITIES: Consumers Energy, its employees, and foundation gave $8 million to Michigan nonprofits last year: www.consumersenergy.com/News.aspx?id=7041&year=2014
SOURCE Consumers Energy