USC, Lexington One students demo latest robotics tech in D.C.

May 4, 2023

The world’s leading companies know that when it comes to technology demonstrations, seeing is believing. The same can be said for students when they see what they learn in the classroom applied and in-action. So, when IBM invited students from the University of South Carolina’s (USC) pilot dual-enrollment program to show congressional staff, lobbyists, and members of Congress how they make Spot, the Boston Dynamics robotic dog, dance using STEM principles, it could not have been a better fit.

Recently, USC and Lexington County School District One students showed off their robot programming skills at the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) “CES on the Hill” night, a miniaturized version of CTA’s famous Consumer Electronics Show, where the world’s most innovative companies offer glimpses into the future of technology products.

“Having students from Lexington District One and our USC partners join us at CES on the Hill to explain how AI and robotics will create new jobs was well received by our Congressional visitors,” said IBM Distinguished Engineer Nancy Greco. “It was viewed as brilliant to have the perspective of the next generation of workforce to share the stage with our bleeding edge technologists to discuss how the way of working will change for the better.”

Led by post-doctoral fellow Noble Anumbe and doctoral candidates Ibrahim Yousif and Devon Clark, the high school students spoke to guests about their work in the dual-enrollment program and how seeing STEM principles come to life can attract more students to pursue STEM fields of study.

“Opportunities like this – for our students to be able to present their skills and knowledge to such a high-profile audience – are a reflection of what happens when we have alignment across the university and partner with local school districts in innovative ways,” said Hossein Haj-Hariri, Dean of the USC College of Engineering and Computing. “I could not be prouder of our students, and I would like to thank the Office of Economic Engagement for forging such a strong relationship with IBM, without which this would not have happened.”

Through the dual-enrollment pilot program with Lexington Technology Center, 11 students from Lexington County School District One have teamed up with researchers in the McNair Center’s neXt (new and emerging X technologies) research team, led by professor and principal investigator Ramy Harik. One of the first projects the students worked on was provided by IBM and centered around Spot, Boston Dynamics’ first commercial robot.

“Our trip to CES on the Hill demonstrated that the partnership between Lexington One, USC, and industry partners like IBM create unique real-world opportunities for students. Our partners at SCTech and the SC Council on Competitiveness, headed by Kim Christ, make these experiences possible,” said Patrick E. Martin, Engineering Design and Electronics Instructor Lead Teacher at the Lexington School District One’s Center for Advanced STEM Studies. “Members of Congress, policy staff, and other professionals were duly impressed with the knowledge, composure, and professionalism of our students, Ayden Jones, Cole Urquhart, Braden Guliano, and Noah Shane. Most importantly, our students were able to interact with individuals at the highest level of government and industry to inform them about the future of artificial intelligence, robotics, and manufacturing.”

Students also visited the offices of members of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation, including Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Joe Wilson, whose office led the students around the Capitol complex and showed them several historical sites like the original Supreme Court and Senate chambers.

“By thinking outside the box and piloting innovative partnerships like these, the USC Office of Economic Engagement is creating opportunities for South Carolina students to see what is possible in STEM fields and provide them with the necessary tools to compete for high-paying jobs,” said Bill Kirkland, Executive Director of the Office of Economic Engagement.

USC Office of Economic Engagement

Established in 2013, the USC Office of Economic Engagement is the single convergence point for industry, researchers, entrepreneurs and government officials looking to engage with the university. To learn more about the USC Office of Economic Engagement, visit the website.