UMD and Amazon announce new robotics diversity initiative

The Amazon store by Terrapin Row on April 16, 2018. (Elliot Scarangello / The Diamondback).

The University of Maryland’s engineering school and Amazon announced a new initiative Monday aimed at improving diversity in robotics research and education. 

Amazon invested $100,000 into the collaboration, called the Amazon Lab126 Robotics and Diversity Initiative, for the current academic year. It includes funding for an expanded capstone course and for two doctoral robotics fellowships at the engineering school’s Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering, according to a press release. 

Amazon Lab126 is the company’s research and development team for electronics. This is the university’s first partnership with the lab, according to the release. 

“Having diverse teams of engineers ensures the solutions we’re innovating, from smarter robots to stronger bridges and more responsive prosthetic limbs, serve our communities equally,” Robert Briber, the engineering school’s interim dean, said in the release. 

The money will also fund the university’s chapters of the Black Engineers Society and the Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers. The groups provide support and professional resources for Black and Hispanic STEM students, respectively.

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