DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) – For the past few years, JD Hoverman has been a mentor for Northland high school robotics teams.
He is also one of the millions of Americans who are on the autism spectrum, something he knows now but didn’t know as a child.
“As someone who grew up with Asperger’s when I was undiagnosed and nobody knew what my problem was, I struggled,” Hoverman said.
Recently, in his robotics mentorship work, he noticed something about the way some students were being treated.
“I notice that students who might be on the spectrum sometimes get pushed aside, even if they have good ideas because they haven’t presented them in a normal social way,” Hoverman said.
So now he’s helping start a robotics team created specifically for young people with autism.
But first, he needed help getting the ball rolling.
Rod Raymond, a local businessman helps Hoverman.
For starters, he transforms a garage he uses to store grain for his microbrewery into a state-of-the-art robotic workspace.
Raymond also has a connection to the cause.
“I just believe in JD and I believe in the engineering aspect of it, and my son has Asperger’s Syndrome and so I have a personal stake in all of this,” Raymond said.
And for Hoverman, participating students learn much more than just robots.
“We’re going to use robots to help them learn life skills,” Hoverman said.
The team will be called Robots of Another Color.
Participants must be of school age, but the team is not affiliated with any particular high school.
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