Amazon funds STEM programs in Seattle schools

Up to 30 public schools will benefit from Future Engineer Robotics grants.

Perhaps with an eye on the next generation of engineers that might be interested in working on its delivery robots or in coding, Amazon is funding computer science and robotics programs at up to 30 public schools in its Seattle home base. From this fall, the Future Engineer Robotics grants will provide schools with expanded access to computer science learning and a private tour of an Amazon robotics fulfillment center. The schools will also get support to set up FIRST robotics teams, including professional development for teachers in robotics.

FIRST, which was co-founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen, encourages young people to get involved in science and technology through mentor-based initiatives and robotics programs in schools. It provides the curriculum for the robotics grants. Amazon is already supporting 100 schools across 22 states through the Future Engineer program, with which it aims to help 10 million kids and young people from underrepresented and underserved communities explore careers in coding and computer science every year.

"This partnership with Amazon will give our students of color the opportunity to see engineers who look like them -- which provides a huge benefit and creates a quicker course to students imagining a future in a STEM field," Seattle Public Schools superintendent Denise Juneau said in a statement. "Creating educational journeys like these help ensure our students are prepared for college, career, and life."

Helping kids access computer science education and get to grips with robotics should certainly buy Amazon a little more goodwill in Seattle, and other areas in which it's running the program.