Welcome to The Robot Garage Family!
We want to welcome you, tell you a little about our family, and about how The Robot Garage got its start.
In 2010, we had two daughters in elementary school and one in middle school. Jonathan had a degree in engineering and owned his own website company. I had a BFA, and had spent most of my career working in the fashion industry. We were a family that loved to build things together...it didn't matter what. We built tree houses and flowerbeds and lemonade stands and we LOVED building with LEGO®.
As an outgrowth of this, our oldest daughter Jane wanted to join a First Lego League (FLL) Robotics team. Like many elementary schools, hers did not have a program. When she finally reached middle school, she joined their team and it was life-changing. The school made it to the state finals, and there we discovered a parallel universe with thousands of kids like ours. There were innovative students everywhere and they were 100% engaged.
Through that experience, we identified what we believed were three needs in our community:
1. Community Space
The robotics season was short and these newly inspired kids had no place to go when the season ended. Athletic students had places to practice year-round (tennis bubbles, ice rinks, pools) but robotics students did not.
2. Consistent Teaching Expertise
FLL robotics teams were volunteer-driven and the experience students received was inconsistent. If a mom like myself was mentoring a team, there was less emphasis on engineering. If an overzealous engineer parent was mentoring, the robots were great but built by an adult with little student participation.
Many students were at schools with no robotics team and curriculum that included little to no engineering. Students were not even given the exposure they needed to put engineering and robotics on their radar.
As an art kid, I always had places where I could take classes with other children who shared that interest. As an “art mom” in an engineering family, I realized no such place existed for our own kids. All these future engineers were trying to figure things out in their own garages or basements. There was no community gathering place for innovative students to work together.
Our family began to dream about a place that would provide opportunities for other kids in our community. We created a war room in our kitchen and every idea and photo went up on the wall. We wrote a business plan, hired friends to design our logo and to design the space itself. On the same day we were finalizing the logo and the name of the company (the working name was simply “Build”), we found a 4,000 sq. ft. deserted garage in Birmingham to renovate. All of a sudden, our brand, The Robot Garage, was born.
What began as one family craving innovative experiences, has grown into what is now The Robot Garage family. We are a work-in-progress, and hopefully always will be. Our programs now serve 7,000+ annually from multiple locations and are the result of many individuals developing and iterating new ideas. We have high expectations for ourselves and great dreams for the people we serve. We believe that by providing a place to “Imagine, Design, and Build,” there is no telling who, from our own communities, will invent the things that will improve our lives in the future.
Welcome to The Robot Garage family. We ask our team members to think of the best customer service experience they’ve ever had and bring that to work every day. We are all about community, and providing warm, welcoming, educational, and successful experiences to our customers.
Jonathan, Sarah, Jane, Kate, and Thea Jacobs