COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The most recent federal budget has $4 million set aside for a joint project between Columbus State University and the Muscogee County School District.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, and Congressman Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, talked about the funding and what it will accomplish during a news conference this morning.

Phil, this is all about robotics education, technology, and how it all fits into a changing economy.

The $4 million earmarked for Columbus State University and the Muscogee County School District is technically for the expansion of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

But that money will be combined with $2 million in Muscogee County School District Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars.

There is also the potential of private investment in the project.

“We are delivering a $4 million expansion of this facility to give school children in the region expanded access to robotics programs, to science, technology, engineering, and math curricula,” Ossoff said. “And to the excitement, inspiration, and creativity that comes with exposure to aerospace, aeronautics space exploration, and technology.”

Ossoff says teaching students robotics at an early age is also an investment.

“The skills that young people are developing through these robotic programs and robotics competitions, and through their engagement with faculty who have advanced knowledge in science, technology, and engineering are going to help equip these young people with the skills to help lead these industries through their growth in our state,” Ossoff said.

Muscogee County School District Superintendent Dr. David Lewis credited multiple parties working together on this project.

“It is rare to see the kind of communication, commitment, and collaboration between school systems and post-secondary institutions, much less civic partners and city organizations, city officials like we have here,” Lewis said.

And there is a reason that the Muscogee County School District is working with Columbus State University.

It will expand the reach of Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, while offering K-12 students more robotics education.

“Exposure in the early grades. Excitement, expectations,” Bishop said. “And so, as they progress, they can go from elementary school, middle school, high school, up through college, and into graduate school in these disciplines so that they can ultimately be the experts. And keep America on the cutting edge of this technology and controlling the future.”

And it’s not just fun and games for students. It’s a direct path to a job and economic development for the community.

“It is now about talent. It is about providing talent,” said Dr. John Fuchko, interim president, of Columbus State University. “And I can tell you that the work they are doing at the Muscogee County School District, the work they are doing at Columbus Technical College, and the work at Columbus State University along with our other educational partners in the region is creating that talent.
Ossoff agrees.

“The skills that young people are developing through these robotic programs and robotics competitions, and through their engagement with faculty who have advanced knowledge in science, technology, and engineering are going to help equip these young people with the skills to help lead these industries through their growth in our state,” Ossoff saId.