Maria Uriyo, Ph.D. and Newland Agbenowosi, Ph.D.
When and why did you decide to start your own company?
We decided to start our own company in 2018 and moved into our current location this April. Prior to our move, we had been coaching a robotics competition team. While coaching, we realized a need for students to be introduced to STEM as well as the need for them to have the foundational knowledge necessary in order to develop their interests in STEM. As a way of addressing these needs, we started offering robotics camps. The effort progressed into the diversification of our services to include camps in Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3D printing, and independent mentoring programs.
How does your business serve the local community?
We offer formal programs to students in grade 3 and higher. We also work with parents to tailor programs for Pre-K to second grade students. Our offerings include camps, after-school programs, birthday parties, explorer-hour activities, one-on-one tutorial sessions and mentored research projects.
Please share one of the greatest moments you’ve experienced in your current profession.
Last April, our robotics team, the IronMechs, won the middle school level computer aided design (CAD) award at the VEX World Championships. The winner is determined based on designs of VEX robotics parts submitted by middle school students from all over the world. We were very honored that our team’s design was selected as the winner.
Tell us about your experience with the HGBA. How has it supported you in your local business?
Having recently joined the HGBA, I got the chance to network and meet other businesses. I was invited by Carried to Full Term and on my first visit our business won the chance to be featured in this spotlight!
What are the top three business tips and tricks can you offer other professionals?
Build a diverse community of supporters, network, and create standardized processes to enable others to help you and your team.
Are you from this area? If not, what brought you here and what do you like about our town?
Newland is originally from Ghana and I from Tanzania. We both graduated from Virginia Tech, but moved to California for work. We returned to Virginia in 2006 and have lived in Haymarket for 13 years. We like this area for its proximity to nature and easy access to urban amenities.
What is your favorite season in this area, and why?
Fall. The changes in color, the cooler weather and festivities that surround the season make it a beautiful time of the year.
What are some hobbies you enjoy?
I enjoy hiking, drawing/sketching, and racquetball. Newland likes ping pong, racquetball, designing/crafting/3D printing, and tinkering with mechanisms and electronics.
What is your favorite local high school sports team?
Well, since robotics is now considered a sport, our favorite teams are our own IronMechs VEX robotics teams.
Are you involved with any nonprofits? If so, which ones and why?
Tyke Foundation (Leesburg), AHEAD Inc. (Rockville, MD), Carried To Full Term (Haymarket), and Future Kings (Woodbridge). These nonprofits have youth centered missions and we are honored to collaborate with them.
What was your most interesting job prior to your current profession?
In the mid 2000s, we had a business developing digital maps of cities in Africa for use in Garmin GPS devices. We worked with local partners to create maps of the cities of Accra, Ghana; Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi, Kenya. We sold and distributed our maps on SD cards for users to insert into their Garmin GPS devices. It was a fantastic experience.