Ashwin Rao: Eagle Scout from Village School

HOUSTON: Ashwin Rao, a sophomore from The Village School, a private pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school located in the Energy Corridor, has developed a passion for robotics. He enjoys it so much that he wanted to make sure students in three of Houston’s underprivileged schools had the same opportunity and access to robotics as he did.

“I like robotics because there are unlimited avenues you can take. For example, you can build a robot that works in the medical field or customize one to work in whatever field you choose,” explains Ashwin. “I think everyone should have exposure to all of the neat projects you can create with robots.”

On a journey to become an Eagle Scout since the second grade, Ashwin needed one more service project to earn the distinction. So, he first identified three underprivileged middle schools in Houston which would benefit from having robotics tables set up for students to use and receive hands-on learning opportunities. Then, he got to work fundraising to purchase the necessary materials and mobilize his friends and other volunteers to help build the tables.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ashwin had to wait for his project to come to life. Earlier this year, the tables he and his friends worked on were deployed in the three middle schools. Ashwin says it has been both fun and rewarding to see the fruits of his labor materialize this year, and see the students using the robotics tables he helped create.

“I learned so much from doing this project – from all the different aspects,” he shares. “It taught me a lot about leadership and how to bring people together for a common cause.”

Ashwin says his robotics teacher at The Village School, Dr. Chad Huffman, inspired him to take on this project and sparked his interest in robotics.

“Dr. Huffman has been my robotics coach and taught me the fundamentals. I’ll always be grateful for all the lessons and fun I had in his class,” says Ashwin.

Ashwin and his peers are not only introducing students in other schools to robotics; they are mentoring younger students at The Village School on the topic. Unfortunately, the pandemic disrupted the continuity of the robotics program, so Ashwin and his friends have taken it upon themselves to ensure these younger students have the opportunity to learn about this emerging and innovative field.

“When he graduates in a couple of years, Ashwin will have left his legacy at The Village School as a student dedicated to helping others broaden their horizons by learning new subjects,” says Suresh Rao, Ashwin’s dad. “I’m so proud of Ashwin for demonstrating leadership in this way.”

Despite the obstacles COVID-19 presented, Ashwin was able to complete his project and successfully fulfill the requirements of earning his Eagle Scout distinction from the Boy Scouts of America. He is proud of his accomplishment and all those who supported him along the way.