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Society ‘STEM Academy’ project encourages students to choose engineering course

Students during robotics practice. (Ricardo Oliveira/CENARIUM)

Gabriella Lira – from Cenarium

MANAUS – Develop, strengthen and disseminate the areas of Electrical Engineering, Automation and Control, Computer, Electronics, Production and Information System of the University of the State of Amazonas (UEA) are the goals of the ‘STEM Academy’ (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), a project in partnership with Samsung. Inaugurated last Monday, 25, the space has laboratories, classrooms, living environments and two mobile laboratories installed in two fully adapted carts. 

The project was created in April 2020, during the social isolation period of the Covid-19 pandemic, remotely. About 200 engineering students are benefited with ‘permanence’ scholarships worth R$600, as an incentive to specialization, reducing dropout and failure rates in the academic community. The general coordinator of the STEM academy, Jucimar Júnior stated that “students who enter college and don’t drop out, are the students who participate in projects. 

Photo: Ricardo Oliveira

To participate in the project, the student must necessarily be enrolled at the university and enroll in the public notice, and must have no other source of income, turning his time only to his studies. 

“UEA [Amazonas State University] realized that to make Amazonas grow it needs engineers. We did the survey and realized that we don’t have enough engineers. We talked with Samsung that has the same vision, and feels the lack of qualified professionals, so we decided to set up this project where we will try to train more engineers, to train the best. We prepare the student, training him and paying a scholarship”, says Jucimar. 

During the control and automation course classes, the students have access to the Now robot, a cutting-edge technology imported from France by SoftBank Robotics Corp. “When I had the opportunity to bring the Now to Manaus, we verified the speed that the robot has to encourage, improve, and stimulate the entire educational process in a very creative way. When the students start studying programming, which is a difficult area, interacting with the Now robot, they see that in practice it is not so difficult. We bring the robot to life”, says the course teacher, Marlene Araújo. 

Photo: Ricardo Oliveira

Expansion

Among the priorities for 2022, in partnership with the State Department of Education (Seduc), one of them is to reach public high schools to offer robotics courses to attract new students. “We are working hand in hand with Seduc, which is setting up a schedule to optimize these trips with the truck, where we will spend 15 days in each school. With all these resources we hope to convince many students that engineering is a viable profession with a bright future. So we’re going to show them what would happen if they came to UEA, and at the end of the course they would receive a certificate”, says the general coordinator of STEM.

With a new dynamic, the project gives opportunities for outstanding students to give classes to high school students, with the supervision of teachers. Two students were selected to fulfill mentoring demands, on a 4-hour schedule, conciliating with their college study agenda. This way, they can “see” themselves in the future and can take a mirror to try new experiences. 

“I have to fulfill the demands of the project and participate in the workshops. This is great because these are courses that in the market are expensive, and here in the project we get them for free. We receive the value of the scholarship, which is a great incentive too, it’s great to receive a salary to study”, says Santiago Monteiro, only 20 years old, student of the fifth period of computer engineering at UEA, and stood out within the project. 

Photo: Ricardo Oliveira

Within a year, Santiago was promoted to mentor and is taking advantage of all the opportunities to start his career. “I really liked the courses, we started learning about programming, I had already seen some of it in college, only the project covered more advanced parts. We also have challenges to accomplish during the course, meaning it’s not just attending class. The practical activity makes all the difference”, he says.