Gillybot, a student-made robot, stands watch in Central High School’s Makerspace. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

As people mill about Central High School’s Makerspace in preparation for a news conference, one of the school’s robotics team members is trying to stack cones using a robot he helped build.

A robot grabs a small yellow cone, zooms across a small robot arena, positions itself and drops the cone on top of a larger red one. The yellow cone almost makes it but tumbles to the ground.

“It was a lot easier to do last year, I promise,” the student says, quickly successfully stacking the cone.

AT&T hopes it can make similar experiences happen across Jefferson County Public Schools with a $15,000 donation to fund competitive robotics teams in 12 schools, the tech company announced Thursday.

Robotics teams at Academy @ Shawnee, J. Graham Brown School, Butler, Central, Fern Creek, Fairdale, Iroquois, duPont Manual, Moore, Meyzeek, Newburg and Thomas Jefferson will all benefit.

AT&T’s donation is a part of the company’s AT&T Aspire project, an initiative to provide training to help students get and keep jobs.

The funds will pay for upgraded robotics kits and competition fees. The robots from the kits move faster than ones Central’s team built for competition last year, some team members said, which is important in competition.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio watches Central High School students operate robots in the school’s Makerspace. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

The donation is important to help prepare students for jobs of the future, AT&T Kentucky President Hood Harris told a crowded room of JCPS robotics team members and media.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio echoed Harris, emphasizing the innovation and communication skills such teams help build.

For the students involved, the team is like a “community,” a few Central members said. Its impact lasts beyond graduation — one speaker, now a Speed School of Engineering student at the University of Louisville, credited Central’s robotics program for pushing her into the field.

Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth

Krauth reports on education in Louisville, including JCPS, the University of Louisville and state policy.Before joining Insider Louisville, she covered technology and business as a reporter at TechRepublic. She also spent time on the data team at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas as a Dow Jones intern.Krauth graduated from UofL, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism with a minor in Russian studies.Email Olivia at [email protected]