In 2005, Dr. Johnson met with Dean Kamen (Founder, FIRST Robotics) and Bart Sudderth (Founder, Millennium Training Systems), to collaborate on starting a robotics program for underserved youth in the city of Atlanta. Dr. Johnson donated part of his downtown Atlanta commercial building while Mr. Sudderth began recruiting students to join the program. The robotics program started with just one team of six students and thanks to Dr. Johnson’s generosity, the team had ample space and once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from Dr. Johnson. Word spread quickly about the success of the program and over the next decade, dozens of robotics teams were clamoring to call Dr. Johnson’s facility “home” in the storage room of an old warehouse. By 2014, several robotics teams comprised of over 200 students were donated space to design and build their robots.
The popularity of the program increased dramatically as requests from schools, robotics teams and individual students inquired about space for their own teams. In 2016, approximately two thousand students from the metropolitan Atlanta area were served through their participation in robotics at the 20,000 square foot facility. The following year, the facility was aptly given the name Johnson STEM Activity Center and became an official legal non-profit entity. By 2018, over 8,000 students were utilizing JSAC. With the addition of an ultra modern computer lab in 2019, the number surpassed 10,000.