MONTGOMERY, Ala. – January 26, 2024 – Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) hosted its third annual Hyundai Initiative for Robotics Excellence (HIRE) Middle School Robotics Tournament on January 25 and 26, 2024. The VEX IQ Robotics competition was held at the HMMA Training Center and was comprised of 20 teams from Montgomery public middle schools and 15 teams from Autauga county middle schools.

In 2020, HMMA teamed up with Auburn University’s Southeastern Center of Robotics Education (SCORE) to start the HIRE program. The goal of HIRE is to establish robotics teams at local schools to seed the next generation of a technically proficient workforce. The HIRE program will establish a much-needed emphasis on STEM education and academic excellence within the public school system.

“STEM skills drive so much of Hyundai’s highly recognized innovations in mobility and sustainability,” said Scott Posey, HMMA’s manager of public relations. “These HIRE robotics teams strengthen these skills for the students in regional public schools that participate. While we hope that one day they will want to use these skills as future team members at HMMA, they will help them be more successful no matter what career path or passion they pursue.”

The 280 students participating in the HIRE Robotics Tournament competed in robotics skills trials, head-to-head matches, and engineering notebook evaluations.

Mrs. Julie Johnson, a sixth grade science teacher from Prattville Intermediate School, said that the robotics experience provided to students through HIRE is giving them at look into engineering careers that they may otherwise not have any exposure to. “I had a student who had no idea what an engineer was, and it put a career path idea in her head,” Mrs. Johnson said. “She had never tried anything like this or been exposed to anything like it.”

HIRE is the result of multiple grants made by HMMA over the past several years, with the goal of establishing robotics teams at local schools to seed the next generation of a technically proficient workforce. HMMA’s initial $70,000 donation in January 2020 established robotics teams at all 10 public middle schools in Montgomery, Alabama. In January 2022, HMMA presented a second donation for $78,800 to expand robotics programs to all eight of Montgomery’s public high schools. In early 2023, HMMA gave $100,000 as the presenting sponsor of the 2023 SCORE Showdown, a premier VEX robotics competition held in LaGrange, Ga. Most recently, in August 2023, HMMA donated $114,000 to expand HIRE into Autauga County. These donations bring HMMA’s total investment in local robotics education to more than $363,000.

During the competition, students received a robotics demonstration of a Hyundai-owned Boston Dynamics SPOT robot owned by Auburn named “Mac.”

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