My STEM Story: Aman Shaik

Aman used his ability and passion for robotics to teach workshops and bridge cultural gaps.


Malala Yousafzai once stated, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” It is said that once you teach someone a concept you tend to learn the concept better.

My robotics journey started when I was a 3rd grader. I have loved building Legos as a child but watching my Legos come to life was astounding. I started to get involved in multiple robotics Lego league teams through a program called FLL (FirstLego League). Each robotic season we had a new robot with a new name and built it depending on the certain theme.

After all those many years of building robots with Legos it was time to move on to more complex robots. When I became a 7th grader, I began to build robots out of metal pieces and enrolled in First Tech Challenge.

I volunteered at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, Florida showcasing these Lego robots. Children were baffled when they saw these objects driving on the floor. At this time, I realized it was time to teach robotics in underprivileged areas.

India, a developing country, is a beautiful place. It’s a place like no other. For someone traveling there every year since a toddler it’s a place you can’t miss. I decided to serve as a youth ambassador for the North South Foundation’s APNA program. My mom is from Hyderabad, so I decided to volunteer at the Vidyaniketan School. I remember walking into the classroom and everyone standing upright as if they were soldiers and stated, “Good morning, brother!” I found this very surprising since they were relatively the same age as me.

I first began teaching 8th graders the robotics workshop. The first day they built the robots and found it fun. The boys and girls were split into separate groups and the girls built the robots faster due to their organization and cooperation. The boys group had some commotion because they were deeply engaged. The next day we programmed the robots using the software on the computers I had brought.

One thing that stood out to me was the pride they showed when they finished. It was such a great thing to see. The boys and girls individually showed the principal their robot and how it moved.

Word about the workshop grew quickly. The 9th graders saw the robots and wanted to participate. They individually talked to the academic director and stated that they wanted to experience this workshop. They were given the chance and I did the same workshop for the 9th graders.

They asked me if I knew Hindi and Urdu. It was a big deal for them to see someone their age but from a different country. I felt great that I had helped some kids that did not have the learning experiences I had as a child.

Overall, The Congressional Award has motivated me to give back to the global community. It is a humbling experience to have the opportunity to help others and to make a difference. The Congressional Award opened my eyes regarding time management and tracking. I now keep track of not just my volunteer, personal development, and physical fitness but also time spent on academics, with friends and family, etc.

I made new friends overseas and made an impact on over 50 kids the same age as me. What I did was a simple thing that anyone can do. Anyone can change someone’s life for good.

Learn more about The Congressional Award STEM Stars program.

Southern California Student Leaders Earn Congress’ Award for Youth

Yorba Linda, CA (November 14, 2019) — On Saturday, November 9, 2019, The Congressional Award Southern California Ceremony presented by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. recognized nearly 200 student leaders for personal goal-setting and acts of citizenship.

U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), and Katie Porter (CA-45) presented the awards on behalf of the United States Congress at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

U.S. Representatives Chu and Porter present The Congressional Award Silver Medal to Thomas Williamson of Anaheim Hills.

“It is my privilege to honor these incredible youth with The Congressional Award, the highest award for youth legislated and presented by the United States Congress,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu. “In order to qualify, these honorees have volunteered their time to achieve goals in public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. I have been so impressed by the creativity and care demonstrated by these young people. Their devotion to success is a benefit to our entire area, and an example to others. Congratulations!”

The event was made possible by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., who served as the Title Sponsor. On a journey of creativity and innovation for more than 95 years, the San Francisco based global pharmaceutical business has not only discovered and developed treatments for complex medical conditions – but made a deliberate effort to engage youth in local communities.

Congressman Cisneros delivers remarks the recipients and guests.

Congressman Cisneros delivers remarks the recipients and guests.“I want to congratulate all 22 recipients of The Congressional Award for California’s 39th district,” said Congressman Gil Cisneros. “I am constantly impressed by the abundance of talented youth in our community. Their unwavering commitment to improving themselves and others around them is truly inspiring. The Congressional Award program has challenged our youth, and it is great to see CA-39 students answering the call and not only exceeding, but demonstrating that they will be future leaders. It was a privilege to recognize each of the awardees accomplishments and join their families in celebration.”

The ceremony also borrowed the talents of FOX 5 San Diego’s Chris Murphy as master of ceremonies.

After the ceremony, recipients and guests were able to tour the presidential library and museum.

“As a UC Irvine professor, I’ve witnessed up close and personal the tenacity and compassion of young people in our community,” Congresswoman Katie Porter said. “I was proud to recognize the accomplishments of the 187 Congressional Award recipients from Southern California, and I look forward to seeing what they’ll accomplish in the future.”

Congressional Awardees receive recognition for their accomplishment.

Congressional Awardees receive recognition for their accomplishment.California ranks number one in both the number of enrolled participants and Congressional Awards earned annually. The Golden State’s 24th-53rd congressional districts have produced 7,431 awardees all-time. There are currently 6,535 participants pursuing the award in the region. The 187 Congressional Award Medalists honored this year contributed 38,749 hours of voluntary public service to their communities.

Download the program for event details and full recipient list.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Reps. Malinowski, Payne, Jr. Honor New Jersey Youth with The Congressional Award

Summit, NJ (September 26, 2019) — Nearly 100 New Jersey student leaders were recognized by Congress for their personal goal setting and community service at a statewide Congressional Award ceremony held on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

U.S. Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) and Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) presented the awards on behalf of Congress.

“I want to congratulate all 98 recipients of The Congressional Award for New Jersey,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “I was excited to give our youth such a prestigious honor. I know it was not easy to earn. But they showed tremendous character in their commitment to the goals they set for the program. I am very proud of them and look forward to being part of the ceremony again next year.”

Congressman Malinowksi assured guests that the future was in good hands with these students assuming leadership roles. “This country belongs to you, the young people. And it’s up to you to make it better. And that’s what you all have done – you’ve decided you must step up and do something.”

Anesha Santhanam of Edison, NJ receives the Silver Medal from U.S. Representatives Payne, Jr. and Malinowski and Celgene’s Patrick Gliha and Rich Bagger.

The event was made possible by Celgene Corporation, who once again served as the Title Sponsor and host venue. The global biopharmaceutical company has become a perennial partner of Congress’ award program for youth by supporting the development of the program both locally and nationally.

Celgene’s Rich Bagger, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs & Market Access, and Patrick Gliha, Senior Director of State Government Relations and a member of The Congressional Award’s Board of Directors, were on hand to congratulate this year’s honorees.

The ceremony borrowed the talents of WABC-TV journalist Anthony Johnson as master of ceremonies.

Attendees look on as Congressman Payne, Jr. delivers his remarks.

New Jersey remains one of the most active states in The Congressional Award’s national portfolio, ranking within the top ten states in both the number of enrolled participants and number of awards earned. The Garden State has produced 6,622 awardees all-time. There are currently 4,563 participants pursuing the award. The 98 New Jersey Congressional Award Medalists being honored this year have contributed 22,634 hours of voluntary public service to their communities.

Learn more about this year’s recipients with the ceremony program and photo gallery.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Download PDF Version