BASF supports STEM education with $5,000 donation to Ascension Parish’s high school robotics team

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
BASF employee volunteers and student mentors present the Robot Ascension team with a $5,000 donation. Top row from left: Robot Ascension team members Zack Lebeau, Don Hidalgo, Marcus Barnes, Ryan Stelly, and Tyrus Rodrigue. Middle row from left: Theresa Ordeneaux (BASF employee volunteer and student mentor) Shane Dugas (BASF employee volunteer and student mentor), and Robot Ascension team members William Demourelle, Mack Allen, Aiden Reed, Kaci Breaux, Susan Allen, and Sarah Hughey; Alan Smith (BASF employee volunteer and student mentor), and Phil Blanchard (Robot Ascension team leader). Bottom row from left: Robot Ascension team members Hunter Ordeneaux, Kyle Arant, Cameron Simmerman, Logan Ford, and Lee Faught.

BASF presented a $5,000 donation to Ascension Parish’s high school robotics team, Robot Ascension, to help the team prepare for the national For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition in 2015.

The donation is part of BASF's ongoing effort to promote and improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in schools. This is the second year that BASF has supported Robot Ascension. Along with the donation, employees from BASF’s Geismar site serve as mentors to the high school students who participate from East Ascension, Dutchtown and St. Amant high schools under the leadership of computer science teacher Phillip Blanchard. BASF also supports a junior-level robotics team for students in grades sixth through eighth at Central Middle School in Ascension Parish.

“Robotics is an exciting field that challenges students to combine academics and creativity in team projects that have a direct link to real-world industry applications," said Tom Yura, Senior Vice President and Manager of the BASF site in Geismar, Louisiana. “This is a great example of how industry can support STEM education and inspire the next generation of scientists, researchers, inventors and innovators."

FIRST is a multinational non-profit organization that works to promote science, math, engineering, and technology. The FIRST program provides teens with the opportunity to explore science in competition against thousands of other students.

Every year, the teams receive new challenges to design and build a robot to compete with other schools. In addition to demonstrating proficiency in science and math, the team members perform community services, mentor new teams and act as ambassadors for the program. Winning teams can qualify for nearly $10 million in college scholarships.

“Through BASF’s continued support of STEM education in our schools, our students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience that can prepare them for successful careers,” said Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol. “It is through the generous support of our business partners like BASF that help to make Ascension Parish public schools one of the top-rated school systems in the state of Louisiana.”