Investing in the future: United Launch Alliance awards grants to HCISD engineering clubs


On October 27, Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District’s high school engineering clubs gathered for a special recognition in their honor.

The United Launch Alliance presented the Harlingen High School, Harlingen High School South, and Early College High School engineering clubs with three separate checks totaling $5,000.

With this donation, the ULA hopes to inspire the next generation of engineers and rocket scientists.

“Engaging our schools and communities is very important to us,” said Ralph Luaces, Manufacturing Engineering Manager at ULA. “We do this is because we want more and more students to become interested in science, technology, and maybe grow up to be rocket scientists. It is a great opportunity for ULA to support the STEM programs. Perhaps one of these students can take my place when I retire and take over where I am leaving off.”

HCISD robotics teams will use the funds to purchase materials for use in competitions like the U.S. Navy SeaPerch Challenge and RGV Boosting Engineering, Science & Technology (BEST) Robotics Competition.

“It’s great that ULA gives us these grants because it means we don’t have to fundraise, and we can spend all of our time working on the robot for competition,” said Connor Smith senior at HHS. “We have a lot that we need to fund. We need to buy entry into competitions and supplies.”

Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos was on hand to congratulate the teams on their performance at competition earlier this month.

He also took the opportunity to address the teams and their sponsors about the important work that they are doing by participating in and promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities in their schools.

“This is a moment that has transformed into a movement,” said Dr. Cavazos. “You all have been doing this at the high schools for some time now, and you have been doing a good job of promoting it. It’s been growing bigger and bigger. You’ve brought about an agreement at this school district – we are going to embrace this concept.”

Dr. Cavazos stated that there is a high probability that robotics will become a UIL sanctioned activity within the next year, and HCISD’s objective is to bring robotics to scale by introducing the program to early adopters at the lower grade levels.

All five middle schools and 10 elementary schools have already adopted the robotics program.

Earlier this month, HHS took 1st place in the nautical obstacle course and advanced to the final interview stage while HHSS tied for 1st place overall in the presentation category at the SeaPerch Challenge. Both teams will join forces and represent HCISD as one team at nationals in May 2016.

HHS also earned 3rd place in Robotic Performance and the 3rd place BEST Award at the RGV BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) Robotics Competition. They will also be advancing to the Texas BEST Regional Robotics Competition in Dallas Texas on November 13-14.

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