Million Dollar Gift Changes the Future of Stuyvesant Robotics

The Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association (SHSAA) received a $1 million donation to build a Robotics Lab from alumni brothers Alfred Lin ’90 and Edwin Lin ’93. Both have illustrious careers in finance; Alfred is a Partner at venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital, and Edwin is Head of Global Fixed Income at a leading hedge fund, Citadel.

This past September, StuyPulse, Stuyvesant’s Robotics Team enjoyed success at the Hudson Valley Rally, a New York-based robotics competition, where one of their robots (“Mildcard”) placed first in the competition. However, the Team faces some serious challenges. “Today’s Robotics room is so crowded, many students have no choice but to work in the hallway. On top of that, many of the machines we use to prototype and build our robots are old and broken,” said Robotics Team coach and teacher, Joseph Blay ’09.

Joseph Blay '09, Robotics coach and teacher, working with students of StuyPulse

The Lin brothers’ donation will be used to build a new, larger Robotics Lab and purchase new equipment. “With this gift, we will be able to provide a completely different experience for our students and create a more successful Stuyvesant Robotics Team,” said Mr. Blay.

During a visit to Stuyvesant, Edwin Lin saw these issues firsthand on a tour of the Robotics Lab with Principal Contreras. “The Team mentioned that they sometimes were forced to work in the hallways. It became clear that the current lab and resources did not satisfy their needs. After my visit, I called Alfred and said we should really do something for Stuyvesant.”

The brothers also mentioned a stark shift at Stuyvesant compared to their time there.
Edwin mentioned, “When I was at Stuyvesant, I attended many city, state, and national competitions with the Math Team and never had to pay for administration fees, travel costs, or lodging. These days, I hear many Stuyvesant students can’t afford to attend the competitions that they have worked so hard to qualify for because their families do not have the financial means to do so. How can that be right for society? Being able to provide resources for these deserving students was an important part of why we got involved.”

Wildcard, the prototype for the robot, Mildcard, that won the Hudson Valley Rally

Robotics competitions have a very large cost attached to them. Between registration fees, transportation, and hotel expenses, each competition can cost thousands of dollars. This figure is not even inclusive of the numerous specialized tools and equipment necessary to create the robots.

With their donation, Alfred and Edwin hope to reduce many of the obstacles students face in pursuing their future endeavors. “What is most important is for students who have interest or a curiosity in robotics to be able to explore the field. It’s not necessarily important to immediately excel at it. Life’s journey affords everyone ample time to determine their true passion. If this Lab can make just one student more interested in robotics and that interest develops into a significant contribution to the world, we’ve succeeded,” said Edwin. Alfred added, “Stuyvesant had a profound impact on our lives. Our experiences there gave us the confidence to believe that we can do anything in the world if we only work hard enough. We wanted to give back to Stuyvesant and provide an enriching experience for today’s students so that they will look to their future with the same optimism and confidence we had.”

The Stuyvesant Robotics Team at the Hudson Valley Rally

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