RIverhead elementary school students in "thinking like an engineer" class at the L.I. Science Center last month. Photo: Denise Civiletti

A Hauppauge-based robotics and technology development company will be working with the Long Island Science Center in Riverhead to create curriculum and programs that will develop advanced technology skills for Long Island youth to enter the new technology workforce, Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio announced today.

ULC Robotics will initially focus support on robotics, drones, 3D printing and augmented reality programs that incorporate and assist existing Long Island Science Center programs, according to a press release issued by the councilwoman. ULC Robotics’ support will include on-site classes, mentoring, field trips to the ULC Robotics research and development facility, Riverhead school engagement and on-site programs for area homeless shelters.

Giglio said she facilitated the introduction of ULC to the Long Island Science Center. “I look at my efforts as an elected official to help all of Long Island’s youth with particular focus on those that are residents of the Town of Riverhead,” Giglio said. “I am dedicated to advance and support our youth by creating a path to high-paying local jobs that will provide youth with options to raise a family here,” she said.

“I am so proud to have brought together the Long Island Science Center and ULC Robotics on this collaboration to achieve our mutual goals to provide the beginnings of a workforce pipeline for our Calverton advanced technology hub,” Giglio said.

ULC Robotics was one of the companies that attended a town board work session with Calverton Aviation and Technology attorney Chris Kent in October. ULC is interested in locating some of its operations at the Calverton site, company founder and CEO Gregory Penza told the town board at its Oct. 17 work session.

ULC is developing VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) fixed-wing, unmanned aircraft for use in the wind energy industry, Penza said. The aircraft will be used to inspect welds on offshore wind turbines. They will also be used to observe protected species, such as whales and dolphins, in the exclusion zones around wind turbine construction sites, Penza said.

Penza told Riverhead officials his company is interested in land at EPCAL for test flights. It will also need a 25,000- to 50,000-square-foot to manufacture the aircraft and train the pilots.

“As technological innovation continues to play a critical role in both the local and global economies, we need to foster curiosity and excitement surrounding STEM,” Penza said in the press release issued by the councilwoman.

“By working with Councilwoman Giglio and The Long Island Science Center, our goal is to help spark creativity and engage in children from a young age, allowing them to establish a passion for technology that can translate into lifelong careers,” he said.

Riverhead school children working on a “Rube Goldberg” project at L.I. Science Center last month. Photo: Denise Civiletti

“We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity this partnership will provide to broaden our curricula,” Long Island Science Center executive director Cailin Kaller said, “and we look forward to working with private partners and community organizations to get as much student participation as possible in these innovative, new programs,” she said.

Not enough children pursue STEM, Kaller said. By high school, only 36% of boys and 11% of girls are interested in STEM, she said. Research shows 91% of teenagers ages 13-17 know what kind of job they want after they graduate from high school. This is a problem for education and the future workforce, Kaller said.

“We need STEM education to develop the next generation of innovators and to train our future workforce. Breaking down STEM barriers and sparking early interest is essential,” Kaller said.

Tia Fulford of The Butterfly Effect Project https://www.bepgirls.org/ said her organization is “super excited” to partner with the science center.

“In a world where girls are having to fight a little harder to be seen, heard, and respected it is incredible that The Butterfly Effect Project is being given this opportunity to crush stigma and explore the endless possibilities of what science and their mind can muster up,” Fulford said.

https://www.sciencecenterli.org/ and ULC Robotics https://ulcrobotics.com/

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.