Inspiring the rocket scientists of tomorrow: HCISD and ULA partner to develop STEM programs


No stranger to launching objects into orbit, the United Launch Alliance hopes to launch the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers of many Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District students, and they want to start them young.

On November 4, the ULA donated a check in the amount of $4,000 to help fund programs at HCISD that promote STEM education at the elementary and middle school levels to inspire students to become the rocket scientists of tomorrow.

“With the support of organizations like United Launch Alliance, our school district and students are better set for global achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “Their continued willingness to provide additional resources to develop STEM related programs in our school district will allow us to further opportunities for students at all grade levels to excel in STEM fields.” ​

With this donation the ULA hopes to motivate students like Jackson Hughes, fifth-grade student at Austin Elementary. Jackson wants to one day become a robotics engineer so he too can create robots like the ones that he discovered at HESTEC (Hispanic Engineering, Science & Technology).

“Last year the college kids made robots that mimicked animal behaviors,” said Jackson. “There was a frog that had a pneumatic cylinder in its tongue, and there were also a couple of animal models that moved like real animals. They were made of everyday stuff like toothbrushes and a vacuum cleaner hose.”

Furthermore, the ULA provides funds to support the HCISD robotics teams in competitions like the RGV Boosting Engineering, Science & Technology (BEST) Robotics Competition.

“ULA is committed to promoting STEM in our communities,” said Ralph Luaces, Manufacturing Engineering Manager at ULA. “One way that we do that is annually we support the high school engineering clubs with their rocket and robotic competitions. We also help out with university at UTPA. This is another opportunity for us to help fund further STEM education programs that are going within HCISD.”

This past April, Harlingen High School, Harlingen High School South, and Early College High School robotics teams were awarded $4,000 to split amongst the teams. With the funds, the teams were able to buy new supplies and materials for use in competitions like RGV BEST.

At the BEST competition last month, Harlingen High School took home first place in Robotics Performance along with the Most Robust Robot award. The HHS team will be advancing to the Texas BEST Regional Robotics Championship that will take place November 14-15 in Dallas, Texas.

Early College High School won first place for the Best Team Exhibit and Interview and second place for Best Sportsmanship and Spirit. Harlingen High School South brought home the Most Elegant Robot award and the Founders Award for Creative Design.

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