In early February, President and CEO Rick Stockburger was invited to attend a presentation by local Robotics team “Titonics” here in Warren at McGuffey Pk-8 school. What was a seemingly simple demonstration by a group of students ended up as an inspiring showcase of the next generation of the clean energy workforce and entrepreneurs.
The “Titonics” team, ranging from 4th-8th grade, displayed immense passion and creativity as they presented their project featuring a hand-built robot named “Thanos”, a kitschy play off Marvel’s Avengers, as well as the star of the show: a one-of-a-kind solar powered tractor. Clearly excited for their upcoming competition, the team rhythmically performed their sequence, demonstrating core values, cooperation, teamwork, and strategy. Every part of the process is completely led by the students, from the preliminary research on their chosen energy topic to coding the robot itself. So, what does a team of tiny, talented innovators have to do with the clean energy workforce in the Valley?
The inspiration behind their project came from the partnership between Foxconn and Monarch Tractor, who entered into a contract manufacturing agreement to produce MK-V tractors at Foxconn’s Ohio facility. Monarch Tractor, the world’s first fully electric, driver optional, smart tractor, enhances farmer’s existing operations, alleviating labor shortages, and maximizing yields. As a company, Monarch is committed to elevating farming practices to enable clean, efficient, and economically viable solutions for today’s farmers and the generations of farmers to come. To prepare for competition, the “Titonics” team connected with Ultium Cells and Lordstown Motors to collaborate with real-life professionals who could offer advice on their project. Along the way, they worked together to troubleshoot issues pertaining to their solar powered tractor and even connect with potential first-customers to further prove the viability of their product.
There are two big takeaways from this interaction. One, brilliant young minds like those on the “Titonics” team, those who are passionate about helping the environment and community through green energy, are emerging all around us. It is our duty to fuel these budding creatives by providing them with career pathways and opportunities that make their dreams a reality — both here in the Voltage Valley and in the state of Ohio. On that note, knowing that there are increasing opportunities to work in these types of industries in the Mahoning Valley, as shown by Foxconn, Ultium Cells, and Lordstown Motors, is extremely exciting and inspiring. Job creation in the U.S. is the most crucial input for the country’s transition to a green economy. As we move toward renewable energy alternatives, jobs will continuously be created to accommodate the nation’s new way of creating energy. Organizations like BRITE are leading the way to ensure that these pint-sized clean energy pioneers have access to the tools and career pathways they need to unleash the energy revolution here in the Voltage Valley and beyond.