March 19, 2018

Check out this article from the Plattsburgh Press Republican.

ESSEX — During a week of sessions organized by College for Every Student, Brilliant Pathways involved more than 1,000 North Country students in workshops and interactive discussions.

With 12 schools participating, the itinerary included robotics workshops, interactive discussions with medical personnel, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities and an empowerment session.


During the robotics activity, students were paired off and given unassembled robot kits, from which they had to construct their vehicles utilizing a nine-page schematic.

This was followed by measuring a map, with numerous turns through which their robots would navigate in order to bring food to a distant village.

Using their measured distances and estimated angles, the youngsters became computer programmers to give the robots directions.

According to a CFES press release, this hands-on, in-depth STEM education experience is designed to expose students to STEM pathways, build confidence and develop the essential skills to succeed in college and career.

Attending the robotics symposium were students from AuSable Forks, Elizabethtown-Lewis, Willsboro, Ticonderoga, Beekmantown, Plattsburgh, Westport and Crown Point central schools.


West Point assistant professor U.S. Army Maj. Jasmine Motupolli, who conducted the robotics workshop, pointed out that while the world is changing, some things at West Point had not, such as the cadet uniforms and the use of chalkboards for students to display their knowledge.

She added that no matter what their majors, every cadet has to take STEM courses.

Motupolli, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, explained the rationale of the program.

“We try to break the norm and have the students learn from one another. The teacher is not the focus.

“Programming is very foreign to some, and this gets them out of their comfort zone. Some students shine with putting things together and others with programming.

“They have to think through the entire process,” she said. “They make mistakes and realize that one mistake can cause a chain reaction and then have to make adjustments in a non-threatening way.”


Westport Central School student Rachel Storey enjoyed the opportunity to work with kids from other schools.

“We learned that we had to program things exactly for it to run properly,” she said.

Crown Point’s Alissa Duschane found the coding to be the most interesting part.

“It was interesting figuring out the measurements,” sais Allyson Cragle of Plattsburgh, adding, “This was my first time doing something like this.

“I might become more interested in doing computer-related things,” she said. “I am thinking I might be doing something with animals in the future, and computers may help.”


Among those assisting in the robotics program was West Point Cadet Brody Rocque, a 2016 Ticonderoga Central School graduate.

Considered a leader and role model at TCS, Rocque garnered athletic and academic accolades including, during his senior year, being captain of the football team and earning the honor of Champlain Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Citing his desire to attend West Point, Rocque said, “Originally, my athletic involvement made me want to be a leader. My family has a history in the Army, and West Point is a premier leadership institution in the U.S.

“West Point has provided me with a great opportunity,” he said. “Coming back here (to help with the session) gives me a sense of purpose and a way to give back to the community. I am glad to be part of this CFES activity.

“Not many in the North Country know about what West Point can provide, and so not many apply.”

Rocque, a business major who received his endorsement to West Point from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro), added, “Critical thinking is a big thing, and activities like the robotics program are fun and informative and show us how the world is evolving.”


In addition to the robotics seminar:

Dr. John Fortune, vice chair of surgical education at University of Vermont Medical Center, spoke to students at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School about STEM pathways.

Kelli Wells, executive director of education and skills for the GE Foundation, addressed “Engaging and Empowering Young Women” at the CFES Center in Essex.

A STEM Fair, which included presenters from the Lake George Association, Porter Land Surveying and International Paper, was held at Ticonderoga Middle School.

“There will be 10 million new, high-paying STEM-related jobs over the next five years,” College for Every Student president and CEO Rick Dalton said in a statement.

“We want to make sure that our students are prepared for these opportunities.”