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Friday, June 22, 2018
Interior Announces Funds to Extend Yap Robotics League Program to Pohnpei, Chuuk
By News Release @ 5:56 PM :: 519 Views :: Education K-12

Interior Announces Funds to Extend Yap Robotics League Program to Pohnpei, Chuuk and Lauds Strength in Partnerships

News Release from US DoI, June 22, 2018

POHNPEI – While on an official visit to Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Doug Domenech, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular and International Affairs announced a $241,675 technical assistance grant for continuation of the Yap Robo League and expansion to include students from the islands of Weno (Chuuk) and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia for academic year 2018-2019. Part of today’s ceremony celebrated the success of Robo Day held in Yap this year and the extension of the program to Chuuk and Pohnpei next year.

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and I are pleased to be a part of inspiring creative and technological innovation in students in the Federated States of Micronesia and are encouraged to know that there has been support from the FSM Congress and private sector alike for this program,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “The fact that you are returning unspent funds to us today reminds us that partnerships are often more important than money when it comes to creating effective programs and successful outcomes,” continued Domenech.

Assistant Secretary Domenech presented the signed grant award to Larry Raigetal of Waa’gey who accepted the grant award on behalf of the recipient organization Habele. Vice Principal Russell Figueras, accompanied by close to 50 students at the Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School, hosted the event. Joining Assistant Secretary Domenech at the event were U.S. Ambassador Robert Riley, FSM Vice President Yosiwo George, FSM Senator Isaac Figir, FSM Senator Joseph Urusemal, Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs Samson Pretrick, Deputy Chief of Mission Ted Pierce, Office of Insular Affairs Director Nik Pula, and staff. FSM Senators Figir and Urusemal have also provided financial support and leadership to the Yap Robo League since its creation in 2011. 

At the ceremony, the Assistant Secretary was granted a check in return in the amount of $1,569.01 as last year’s Robo League Day was successfully completed under budget.

“On behalf of Habele, the schools, administrators, and students who took part in Yap Robo Day May 2018, we thank you for investing in this opportunity to expand this program for students across Micronesia,” said Larry Raigetal. “With support from many other partners, both public and private sector, we were able to carry out the year-long work and end-of-year Robo Day championship program under budget,” remarked Larry Raigetal. “As a token of our appreciation and respect for the support of the American taxpayer and the U.S. Government, we are proud to return $1,569.01 as a demonstration of our good stewardship.

The Yap Robo League, organized and hosted by U.S. non-profit organization Habele Outer Islands Education Fund, was established in 2011 and turned into a statewide league in 2018.

Funding provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior allowed several schools in Yap to field student teams who designed, built, and competed complex robots at its first Yap Robo Day. Eighty-eight students from Yap High School, Outer Islands High School, Yap Catholic High School, Yap Seventh Day Adventist School, and Faith Christian Academy took part in the competition. Nearly 300 people, including FSM Vice President Yosiwo George, participated in the May 2018 event.

Habele is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of educational opportunities for students in the remote islands and atolls of Micronesia, a former U.S. administered trust territory in the Western Pacific. Habele provides support to low-income students across Micronesia, including K-12 tuition scholarships for students attending non-public schools, donations of books to public schools and libraries, development of local language materials, and organization and support of after school clubs, such as the Robo League.

Funding support for the Robo League program is made available through the Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program.

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Interior Helps Launch Pilot Robotics Program in Palau

News Release from US Department of the Interior, July 3, 2018

WASHINGTON – Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, this week announced $5,913.00 in fiscal year 2018 grant funding to the Coral Reef Research Foundation to support a three week “robotics” program for high school and community college students in Palau this summer. The program will be led by Kevin Bowen, founder of “Porpoise Robotics”.

“Secretary Zinke and I are pleased to be able to join in helping to launch a pilot robotics educational program in Palau this summer,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “We are proud to support researchers, teachers, and administrators in Palau who work hard to provide additional opportunities for the learning and development of students in Palau.”

The Coral Reef Research Foundation in Palau will host the training. Teachers and teaching assistants will be the targeted trainees during the first week. Students with an interest in robotics, science, and engineering will be the targeted trainees for the second and third weeks. Students and teachers alike will learn hands-on building skills, design electronic circuits, write C++ code, and invoke computational thinking to create a “Land Shark” ground vehicle through the process of "mechatronics" (electro-mechanical devices controlled by computers). It is estimated that this pilot program will reach at least 36 students and a dozen teachers. The project team views this as a pilot program and hopes to gauge interest to tailor future robotics educational programs in Palau, including underwater robotics.

Last month while on official travel to Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, Assistant Secretary Domenech announced a $241,675 technical assistance grant for continuation of the Yap Robo League and expansion to include students from the islands of Weno (Chuuk) and Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia for academic year 2018-2019.

Funding for both programs has been provided through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program. Applications are submitted from October through May 1st each year. Funds are awarded once OIA receives appropriations from the U.S. Congress until the funds are exhausted.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees Federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA supports the Secretary's mission of Fulfilling Trust and Insular Responsibilities through balancing efforts and limited resources towards stronger economic and health capacities, and fiscal accountability in the U.S. insular areas.

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