Growing up with a father who owned a technology company, Hansol Hong saw firsthand the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. But as an adult, he didn’t see the lessons accessible to all children. That realization prompted Hong to co-start Robolink, a company that strives to educate all people from all backgrounds and ages.
“I wanted to make STEM education more fun, and robots seemed like a fun way to get students engaged,” Hong said. “I mean..who doesn’t love robots?”
Hong, a UCSD graduate, has taught more than 10,000 students how to build robots and program drones. He said prior to launching Robolink in 2012, there weren’t many companies who made STEM education accessible to all children.
“Many of the options were either for the very geeky hardcore hobbyist that weren’t friendly enough for younger students, or traditional science kits for more science experience tools,” he said.
Today, his products, including Zumi and CoDrone, are used in more than 1,000 schools around the world. More importantly, the products and accompanying lessons are closing an educational gap, Hong said.
“First, we make sure that we align with industry relevant skills,” he said. “The primary programming language that we teach is Python, the most popular in the tech industry. However, if you were to learn coding at school, you’d most likely learn Java, which is not as popular in the industry anymore compared to Python, for text coding since that’s what schools adopted for AP computer science. We want to make sure that we expose those to students at a younger age, so that it sparks their interests early, as coding is everywhere now, and self-driving car and AI will be everywhere soon.”
Robolink’s fanbase has grown during the pandemic too.
“We have been doing a lot of virtual learning since the pandemic,” he said. “Until March, we were mainly in San Diego, but now we have students from 6 different countries. We will have more offerings of various STEM education online.”
Hong said one can get by without STEM education, but the benefits for those who do take lessons are enormous.
“You can survive without knowing it, but it’s tremendously beneficial to know since it’s everywhere,” he said. “Technology has been changing our lives so rapidly, and whether the students want to be an engineer or not, it is becoming an essential skill, so we want to teach that in a fun way to all the students.”
For more information about Robolink, go to robolink.com/.