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TEMECULA: Robots, 3D gizmos help Tech Academy teach, inspire
Ambitious hands-on program, celebrating grand opening Oct. 12, aims to train robot wranglers and flying-car designers of the future
TEMECULA — Not many parents can afford to buy their tech savvy children — the robot designers and flying-car engineers of the future — the latest Lego robot kit or a $2,500 3D printer.
That’s where Gears 2 Robots Tech Academy on Old Town Front Street comes in.
At the academy, which will be holding a grand opening event on Oct. 12, young children, teens and collegians can “play” with such tasks as building mechanized contraptions to compete in regional contests and collaborating with peers on fantastic new devices.
This is more than play. Sure, youngsters and adults have fun building and working with the equipment at the shop, but they are also picking up skills that can help them get into top colleges and, down the line, land a high-paying job.
“It’s the opportunity to be exposed to educational technology, opportunity to compete and opportunity to have mentors and coaches who are college educated,” said Andy Ross, a retired Air Force airman and cargo pilot who founded the academy.
Ross, who still flies, started the company in part because of his eight-year-old son, Nicholas Ross, a budding engineer/rocket scientist/robot technician who developed an interest in the Lego robot kits.
“This was all in my house,” Ross said, pointing to a large table covered with Lego creations during a Friday morning interview at the academy.
Nicholas is now 12 and he helped his dad put everything together for a recent open house at the shop, located in the strip mall immediately south of Old Town.
That was a great experience, Ross said, and they even “camped” in the shop together one night.
For the last few years, Gears 2 Robots has focused on running camps and working with school districts on their science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. Ross said that work is still part of the company and he’s trying to secure contracts with more school districts.