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GrafTech (Parma, Ohio) gives East Tech (Cleveland, Ohio) students real-world science, technology and business experience. Student and GrafTech intern, Brandon Sangster, turns experience into IT degree at Ohio University

Cleveland, Ohio – March 19, 2010 – When Craig Shular and some of his team spent the afternoon with young men and women at East Tech High School on Cleveland’s East Side three years ago, he was hooked. He knew they had to help. His company, GrafTech International, a global leader in the carbon and graphite industry headquartered in Parma, Ohio, has been an important force behind East Tech’s participation in one of the biggest games of their young lives – a robotics competition with the power to change their futures.

“The Robotics Program has been a shining light in this inner city environment. It is often the first and only experience the young men and women, some of whom live in difficult circumstances, have with hands-on engineering, science, and technology, and it’s an effort strongly supported by the local business community.” — Craig Shular, President, GrafTech

Twelve East Tech high school students will take part in The Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, to be held at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio, March 25 – 27, 2010. More than 60 competing high schools from as far away as Florida and Wisconsin will participate, bringing a total of 1,500 students to the Wolstein Center for the competition weekend.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is a multi-national engineering contest, which immerses high school students in the world of engineering. Teaming up with engineers from businesses and universities, students get a hands-on, inside look at the engineering profession. In six intense weeks, students and engineers work together to brainstorm, design, construct and test their “champion robot.” With only six weeks, all jobs are critical. The teams then compete in a spirited, no-holds-barred tournament complete with referees, mascots, cheerleaders and time clocks. Companies around the country, including GrafTech locally, are involved.

“The first time I saw the competition as an observer, I knew we had to get involved,” said GrafTech President Craig Shular. “This competition not only puts a science and technology career front and center for young men and women who may not otherwise consider one, but does it in a way that is fun and competitive, putting it on par with sports competitions and making science and technology relevant in their daily lives.”

The partnership developed between schools, businesses, and universities provides an exchange of resources and talent, building cooperation and exposing students to new career choices. The result is a fun, exciting and stimulating environment in which all participants discover the important connection between classroom lessons and real world applications.

A Personal Story
One student’s life that has been positively influenced by the program is Brandon Sangster who was East Tech Robotics Team Captain three years ago. GrafTech has had Brandon back as an intern several times since, and he is now completing his degree in engineering at Ohio University.

“I cannot say enough about the potential impact this program has in the lives of these young men and women. We all have a responsibility to give back to the community, and this program underscores how business can get involved and truly make a difference,” Shular said.

GrafTech dedicates several engineers and other team members to the program each year.

Beyond Technology
According to Lionel Batty, Director of Research and Development, who introduced GrafTech to the program, the company’s involvement with East Tech students now goes beyond the robotics competition. “We quickly learned the needs of this inner-city Cleveland school were greater than simply providing funding for their Robotics Team. Our involvement now goes beyond the competition, interacting and supporting teachers and students as needed, including initiating a highly active Junior Achievement program aimed at teaching young men and women leadership skills, contributing computers, helping them with their Christmas food drive and providing OGT study guides” Batty said.

About GrafTech
GrafTech has been a world leader in carbon and graphite solutions for more than 120 years, manufacturing thermal management, fuel cell and other specialty graphite and carbon products for the electronics, power generation, solar, oil and gas, transportation, petrochemical and other metals markets. The company employs over 300 people in Ohio and 2200 at facilities located throughout the world.