WESTMINSTER, Md. – The ribbon-cutting for the Autonomous Robotics Innovation Center (ARIC) on April 17 brought close to 200 people to the large, light-filled space, including elected officials, industry partners, sponsors, and volunteers. Sporting colorful T-shirts, local high school robotics teams – Gear Freaks, Robo-Lions, and RoboCavs – demonstrated stacking cones and other robot skills.
ARIC is a training and educational facility serving K-12 students who are enrolled in Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS) and involved in STEM programs and robotics clubs, as well as college students studying computer science. The center is an initiative of the Westminster-based Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC), a nonprofit whose mission is to provide equitable access to technology innovation, education, and incubation in rural main street communities for economic development. MAGIC is an official partner of CCPS.
A key supporter of the project is Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America (KBGCNA), the U.S.-based arm of a philanthropic entity operated by Knorr-Bremse, based in Munich, Germany. The organization contributed $77,500 in grant support to help fund facility renovation, leasing, and startup costs. Knorr-Bremse is the parent company of Knorr Brake Company (KBC), headquartered in Westminster and a large employer in the region.
“We’re excited to join forces with ARIC and MAGIC in helping to promote high-tech education in Westminster and Carroll County,” said Randall Wingate, a KBGCNA steering committee member and director of project quality at KBC. “This inclusive STEM-focused program applying to all students in the area promises to have a lasting impact on the community. We’re proud to offer KBGCNA’s support and look forward to potential future partnership opportunities involving KBC and our employees.”
KBGCNA centers its investments on initiatives that support youth, education, and underprivileged populations in the surrounding communities of Knorr-Bremse’s three largest North American companies, a group that includes KBC along with Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC, based in Avon, Ohio; and Watertown, New York-based New York Air Brake LLC.
Knorr-Bremse is the global market leader for braking systems and a leading supplier of other safety-critical rail and commercial vehicle systems. KBC is a leader in the supply and maintenance of braking systems for U.S. passenger rail cars.
Pathway to Tech Careers
Each KBGCNA grant is overseen by a project champion, who is an employee of KBC, Bendix, or NYAB, responsible for engaging with the grantee to ensure the project remains on point from start to finish and seeking ways for local team member engagement, where possible. Co-champions for the ARIC project are KBC’s David Parks, electronic systems engineer team lead, and Jacob Selmer, product engineering manager.
Another KBC connection is Lindsey Franey, marketing and governmental affairs manager at KBC, who serves on MAGIC’s board.
“Teaching and fostering youth through this center impacts our entire community and our workforce,” Franey said. “They may come and work at KBC one day. ARIC is providing opportunity.”
Wingate agreed, emphasizing that a key focus of KBGCNA is education and how it reaches the community.
“The educational focus benefits us as a business as well, because if our support can help raise the level of STEM education within the county, then it helps feed the local workforce for the type of careers found at KBC and companies like ours,” he said. “Along with everything else ARIC brings to the community, its ability to help us recruit potential interns and future employees is one more great advantage.”
To view the entire announcement, click HERE.