INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to expand the number of schools offering robotics programs.

House Bill 1382 would offer schools grants to start robotics teams.

Right now, about 30% of Indiana school districts have robotics teams, according to State Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville). The bill would allow that to climb to at least 60%, he added.

“The hope is this bill will move us from 3,000 current students to 18,000 or 20,000 students across Indiana,” said Goodrich, who introduced the proposal.

The goal behind the legislation is to encourage more Hoosier students to enter STEM careers and stay in Indiana, Goodrich said.

His bill would require the teams receiving state grants to partner with a college, technical school or business.

“When kids get internships, they get jobs, they get summer jobs, they get relationships with industries, we know they learn here and they stay here,” Goodrich said.

At Plainfield High School, almost all students on the robotics team pursue STEM careers, according to engineering teacher Edward Schmitt.

“We focus on producing students that critically think, that are problem solvers and that are going to be successful in life after high school,” Schmitt said.

Plainfield has robotics teams at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Students say the program teaches them several useful skills.

“It’s a lot of craziness, it’s a lot of management,” said Aaron Pannel, a Plainfield High School senior and team lead. “We have 42 members on the team, so it’s a lot of planning, time management and trying to make sure we use the best resources.”

“It’s a lot of troubleshooting and learning to deal with problems,” said Luci Battershell, a senior.

Aaron and Luci both say they plan to become engineers. And sophomore Eliza Kuehn is strongly considering the same path.

“I haven’t really always been in tune to engineering, but now it’s something that I can really see myself doing,” Kuehn said.

Goodrich’s bill passed in the House unanimously and is now being considered by a Senate committee.