Rijul Tandon

Rijul Tandon works with some of the kids at AAOC Camps for Youth Development in Nashville.

Not long after he became keenly interested in Robotics a couple of years ago, Ravenwood High School senior Rijul Tandon came to realize he wanted to spread the word.

He had had a general interest in STEM-related courses, and it was in his sophomore year that Tandon delved even deeper into programs such as Robotics, Nanotechnology, Computer Aided Drug Design, and web programming. He enrolled in Ravenwood’s JROTC Robotics club and interned at the Robotix Institute in Franklin, surrounding himself with the knowledge of operating VEX and Lego platforms.

Tandon knows his career path is paved with the likes of science, technology, engineering and math, and along the way he is considering top-notch STEM universities such as Purdue, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

But even as he has his own future mapped out, Tandon knew he could help others find their direction as well. Specifically, he decided to share his passion with underserved youth within lower-income neighborhoods in Nashville, teaching Robotics 101 to kids ages 6-13.

Tandon began conducting age-appropriate workshops at G.O.D. (Global Outreach Developments) International, Sevier Park Community Center and AAOC (An Array of Charms) Camps for Youth Development, where he also teachers Robotics this summer. He coaches the kids with robot-building and programming on VEX and LEGO. 

“I feel like it’s important to spread awareness to any kids who do not have opportunities,” Tandon said recently while taking a short break from his workshop at AAOC. “I feel like if any one of them feel like taking up Robotics for future jobs, I think it would be good to teach them the basics and they could spread the word to other friends. I just want to make sure a lot of kids have these opportunities.”

Tandon had recognized his aptitude for working with kids when he did community service as a STEM volunteer at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville and in providing online math tutoring to students. His first approach to working with inner-city programs was to contact the director of AAOC Camps, a nonprofit in north Nashville that provides social and academic education to inner-city youth.

“He sent me an email back in August [2021] and told me what he was interested in doing,” said Caroline Davis, CEO who helped to found AAOC Camps 18 years ago. “He was willing to come in on Wednesdays (later on Fridays as well) and teach them how to make robots, and they have been excited ever since.

“That’s something to me, to see a high schooler devote their time like that. He’s dealing with different groups, and he’s very patient. And the kids love it.”

Tandon, whose life away from technology and working with youth includes a position on Ravenwood’s tennis team, is also a skilled fundraiser. He started a GoFundMe account and used other ways to help AAOC procure a number of VEX Go classroom-style kits so that multiple groups can work on robot building and programming in parallel.

Visit Rijul Tandon’s website for more information and to inquire about his services.