Dr. Jawa has always been closely engaged with the community wherever he has lived. While residing in Michigan, he worked with local community colleges and helped to design products for children with autism. While living in New Jersey, he was a mentor for local high school FIRST Robotics teams. In Auburn, Alabama, he regularly volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, building houses in Opelika. Since moving to California, he has launched numerous successful outreach initiatives. He developed a close partnership with Ability First, an organization that provides a variety of programs to people with disabilities. At Cal Poly Pomona, Dr. Jawa launched nationally renowned K-12 outreach programs aimed to inspire and empower K-12 students.
Dr. Jawa has also been a mentor and champion of local entrepreneurs. One of the most successful startup companies founded by a student of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is Vistendo. Dr. Jawa has been an early mentor and enthusiastic supporter of Vistendo and its founder, Isabel Gutierrez, from the company’s infancy.
Tech Art, which Dr. Jawa co-founded at Sacramento State University in 2022, is a K-12 outreach program designed to inspire and empower underrepresented minority students. Its primary goal is to build a pipeline of Black middle/high school students into Sacramento State’s engineering program by providing them with relevant fundamental skills and inspiring them to choose such a path. Students learn to use electronics, build gadgets, and code while combing their artistic skills in engineering.
- Creative Robotics focuses on Scratch programming through the Hummingbird control platform. The robot structure is open-source and includes a controller board, sensors, motors, and real wiring.
- Wearable Technology concentrates on C programming with an Arduino chip control platform, sewing with conductive thread, and soldering.
- Pi Robotics focuses on Raspberry Pi by using the Python programming language to build a robot and give tasks to the robot to perform.
Dr. Jawa founded the Robotics Education through Active Learning (REAL) program, popularly known as the Robot Rally, in 2006 with just ten students in the Pomona Unified School District. The first Robot Rally, in which two schools participated, culminated in the Annual Robot Rally
at Cal Poly Pomona in May 2007. Since then, REAL has grown to reach over 10,000 students from many schools.
The program has inspired many students and helped them to choose career paths in engineering. A shining example of this is the story of Matthew Kuykendall, who attended Dr. Jawa’s robotics class as a fifth grader at Whittier Christian School, became a mechanical engineering student at Cal Poly Pomona, and is now a manufacturing engineering trainee at RBC Bearings in Oxford, Connecticut. In this capacity he develops Excel VBA software to automate the quoting process of catalogue components and leads the integration of Power BI to aid senior management across the company and across sites to efficiently visualize data and metrics to get an accurate daily pulse of RBC’s bearings manufacturing plants.
Robot Rally Facts
Dr. Jawa’s first formal in-school program was at a local elementary school with about 25 students, whom he met with once a week for about 12 weeks. He taught his first class to a group of fifth graders. At the end of the year, the students were invited to Cal Poly Pomona for an annual event at which they displayed their creations and participated in sumo robot and obstacle course challenges. The event came to be known as Robot Rally.
Engineering students from this program visit local schools, support teachers, and mentor students, and the program’s engineering faculty train teachers and visit classrooms. More than 10,000 students have participated in the program, including 300 undergraduate students, and more than 600 teachers have received REAL training. More than 75% of REAL students came from low-income families, approximately 51% of REAL participants are girls, and all participants expressed interest in a STEM career after completing REAL.