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FWISD, 10 Regional School Districts Awarded Nearly $1 Million Grant to Further Aerial Robotics Initiative

The Fort Worth ISD Career and Technical Education Department’s aerial robotics programs will receive additional professional development, curriculum, equipment, supplies and more, thanks to a federal grant funded by the Texas Education Agency.

Recently, the department along with programs at 10 other Texas school districts was awarded a one-year $925,000 Perkins Reserve Grant to further North Central Texas Aerial Robotics STEM Initiative work, which began last fall. This initiative, sponsored by TEA’s Texas Regional Pathways Networks, provides schools in the Fort Worth, Azle, Birdville, Cleburne, Crowley, Era, Grapevine-Colleyville, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Keller, Mineral Wells, and Strawn school districts that teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Agriculture, Law Enforcement, Cybersecurity, and Construction with educational pathways to the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry. Industry partners collaborating in this venture include Bell, Tarrant County College District, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County and North Central Texas Interlink, Inc. 

This is the third straight year FWISD has been awarded a Perkins Reserve Grant. The 2018-2019 academic year, the District received a Perkins Reserve Grant totaling $75,000 that funded a Smart Hospital for O.D. Wyatt High School’s Health Science Program. Last fall, the North Central Texas Aerial Robotics STEM Initiative which FWISD is part of received a grant totaling $700,000 to fund the purchase of drones, teacher professional development and class curriculum for seventh through 12th grade students. The initiative was one of 10 regional collaborative groups in Texas awarded the competitive grant last year.

In February, FWISD hosted the 2020 North Central Texas Aerial Robotics Showcase (“Game of Drones”), which included student demonstrations and competition teams from students in Region 11 districts and superintendents trying their hand at flying drones in competition against one another with coaching from students.

According to the grant application, submitted in April, the North Central Texas Aerial Robotics STEM Initiative “will add key partners, including another district (Mineral Wells) … and more industry partners to integrate aerial robotics into high-wage, high-demand career pathways including STEM, Aerospace, Construction, Cybersecurity, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), AV/Business ad Law and Public Service.” Among initiative goals this year is “adding aerial robotics to at least one pathway with supporting curriculum” by 2021 resulting in 200 new student certifications and licensures, according to the grant application.

Stephanie Tennyson, FWISD CTE coordinator, said the North Central Texas Aerial Robotics STEM Initiative offers students a high-quality college and career pathway that aligns with regional workforce needs.

The 2020-2021 Perkins Reserve Grant is funded July 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021.


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