Only 14 per cent of engineers in Australia are female, and Robogals are on a mission to generate a workforce that’s better-skilled to solve the problems engineers face.
That mission brought Robogals to The Sir Henry Parkes Memorial Public School on Monday, November 27 to provide students with an insight into robotics, and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) pathways they might explore.
Robogals is a global organisation of volunteers but it was the chapter attached to the University of Queensland who conducted the workshop for TSHPMPS and Drake Public School students, who quickly became engaged with the coding challenges set for them.
Spokesperson Sophia Hooton, who’s studying electrical and biomedical engineering at UQ, said it’s not only females but diversity of all persuasions the group is seeking. Bringing more backgrounds and approaches to the problem-solving table will result in better solutions to fit the need, she said.
“It will be better for the industry as a whole.”
She said a lot of students may have seen robotics but not had an opporutnity to play with them. While not seeking to sign up future STEM students at this early stage, Ms Hooton said one day she hoped the primary schoolers might look back and see robotics not as something scary, but interesting.
The students were set tasks to program movement instructions, download them to their robot and then give it a test run to see if their coding was correct. The challenges became increasingly difficult, progressing from a straight line to a square to loops and even a figure eight.
The session concluded with a video clip of a robot solving a Rubix cube puzzle in 3.253 seconds, using the same technology the students used in the workshop.
“Anyone here could make that robot,” the students were told, as way of motivation.