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From Home Furnishing Business

Ashley Donates $33K to Middle, High School Robotics Teams

Ashley Furniture Inds. donated more than $33,000 to middle and high schools in Wisconsin and Mississippi in recent weeks to sponsor robotics programs aimed at encouraging students to study science, technology, engineering and math.

Several of the schools used the funds to help defray the costs of sending teams to robotics competitions in the two states.

The company said $20,000 went to the 7 Rivers Robotics Coalition, a group of 14 high schools in western Wisconsin to participate in First Robotics competitions. The contribution included $10,000 to the Trempealeau County team, “TC Robotics,” made up of students from five local schools, to help defer the costs of an upcoming competition, supplies and traveling.

Additionally, nine other area school districts received a $10,000 sponsorship check for each of their First Robotics teams.

In Mississippi, Ashley also awarded the North Pontotoc High School Robotics Team a sponsorship check for $3,393.

In September of this year, the team competed against 23 teams from across the state at the MS Best Robotics Competition. They placed 5th overall, and are one of five teams from the state of Mississippi that qualified to attend the Southern Regional Competition at Auburn University in Alabama.

First and Best Robotics are similar programs that encourage students to be leaders in science and technology. In these programs, students learn how to design, build, program and test a robot that will then be used to compete against other schools throughout the state and country.

Students are also required to operate the program as if they are running their own business, utilizing skills in marketing, finance and more.

“Not only are students learning about the design, programming and building of a robot, they are also building self-confidence, teamwork and leadership skills,” said Andy Baker, automation and robotics manager at Ashley Furniture. “There are many great career options that can evolve around STEM education.”

Additionally, Ashley donated $10,000 worth of VEX Robotics to seven area middle schools in Wisconsin to accompany STEM education programs and build students’ interest in these areas. The company said the donation allows the schools to begin a local competition called Greater Western Wisconsin VEX IQ Challenge.

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