Birmingham Robotics Initiative helps cultivate the next generation of engineers in Birmingham

One of the projects for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Give As One 2023 is the Birmingham Robotics Initiative.
Written by: Rachel Burchfield
Media contact: Micah Hardge

stream BRI Pic 1Photo Credit: Samuel WilcoxOne of the projects for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Give As One 2023 campaign is the Birmingham Robotics Initiative.

Founded in early 2020 by UAB graduating senior Samuel Wilcox, BRI was created with the goal of creating competitive robotics teams at local Birmingham high schools and providing students with an outlet to cultivate an interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

Competitive robotics is when teams build robots designed to compete in simulation challenges.

Wilcox, a biomedical engineering major and native of Dallas, Texas, arrived at UAB with the hopes of finding a local high school with a competitive robotics team to mentor and sponsor. With no local teams existing in the Birmingham area, Wilcox decided to create one.

“The Birmingham Robotics Initiative was something I felt I was always going to do, coming to Birmingham,” Wilcox said. “But I never thought it would look like this.”

Learn more about Give As One here.

Since 2021, BRI has supported and provided Carver High School, Ramsay High School and the Alabama School of Fine Arts with mentorship and support, successfully improving STEM education and access. These students go on to compete with up to 4,000 teams globally representing 26 countries, with BRI even providing students with travel and accommodations to attend competitions.

Now in its fourth year, Wilcox and the roughly 12 UAB students who assist with BRI are helping cultivate the next generation of engineers in Birmingham, using robotics to display the talents of students interested in science.

“The impact is multifaceted,” Wilcox said. “At almost all the schools we’ve worked with, they didn’t have a place for students to use their hands-on abilities in engineering. So, at all the schools, we are actively working to build makerspaces, not only for the robotics team, but for other classes to use to give students that hands-on experience.”

To support the work of the BRI, The Birmingham Chapter of the Links, Inc., has made a lead gift of $1,500 — a bold statement of support for a program that has impacted countless students’ lives. Click here to join in the effort.

Although Wilcox is graduating April 29, the BRI is not going anywhere, he says. Next year, BRI plans to add Parker High School to its network of high schools it supports.

“We are creating a foundation of students who have confidence in studying STEM,” Wilcox said. “We’re showing them how fun engineering is, and hopefully they’ll come to UAB and study or go anywhere and study engineering.”

Give As One is an annual one-day fundraising event — held April 13 — that brings together students, alumni, faculty, staff, the local community and supporters worldwide to support current and future generations of UAB students.