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UMATILLA — Umatilla High School is getting its own Amazon Think Big Space.

Umatilla School District on June 29 announced in a press release a collaboration between Amazon Web Services Inc. and the high school’s robotics program is resulting in a revamp of the space the program now uses.

The robotics program aims to spark student interest in STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — and the new educational lab is going to support that effort with a “stimulating learning environment” that helps expand the “school’s interactive hands-on technical education, cloud computing training and advanced manufacturing technology offerings.”

This is the third AWS Think Big Space in Eastern Oregon and the second in Umatilla County. Amazon opened its first Think Big Space in the county in April at Nixyaawii Community School on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Umatilla School Board Chair Jon Lorence in the press release said it was “wonderful to see this investment from AWS in our school and community. We’re excited to get started on the design and construction work, which we expect to begin this summer so we can open in January 2023, just in time for the Umatilla Robotics season kick-off and game challenge reveal.”

Umatilla School District Superintendent Heidi Sipe explained this Think Big Space is unique because Umatilla robotics students took the lead in creating the initial concept, project design “and every step of the grant application process for the space.” The team ensured AWS understood the full spectrum of the K-12 robotics and STEAM offerings and articulated its vision for a revamped space, which is to have a strong focus on advanced manufacturing technologies.

This new training lab, she continued, “will provide industry grade opportunities for Umatilla students so they can take their robotics work to a new level.”

Sophomore Avery Gutierrez was one of the students who assisted with the grant application process. She is the junior project manager for Team Confidential, the school’s robotics team. She said is was a thrill to help with the grant and honor to receive it.

“I’m excited to see what we can do as a team in this space,” she said in the press release, “and what opportunities we can hopefully offer to the community as we learn to use our equipment and teach others.”

The AWS Think Big Space is an AWS InCommunities program. Cornelia Robinson, global lead of inclusion and outreach for AWS InCommunities, in the press release said Amazon is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where its employees live and work.

“We are proud of our presence in Eastern Oregon and to have the opportunity to support our neighbors who share our passion for STEM education,” according to Robinson. “I hope this AWS Think Big Space at Umatilla High School allows its students to not only ‘think big’ but to also dream big. I can’t wait to see what they will create.”

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