Robogals inspire a new generation of engineers

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Fifty school children, many under 10 years old, recently took part in the Robogals pilot session at the Schneider Electric head office in Macquarie Park, Sydney.

Robogals is an international, student-run organisation founded by 2012 Young Australian of the Year Marita Cheng. The objective is to hold hands-on sessions aimed at enticing school children into the world of engineering.

According to the Australian National Engineering Taskforce, an estimated 20,000 engineers will be needed to support forecast economic growth. Only 10 per cent of engineering jobs and university places are held by women in Australia.

During the session, run by volunteer university students, children had the opportunity to build and program a robot, while also learning about how engineering and robotics is present everywhere in the world around them.

Ivanka Chamings, Clipsal by Schneider Electric’s first female engineering chief in 90 years said: “We hope the Robogals session helps some of the children build a love of science, and encourages them to be inquisitive and interested in what is happening in the world around them.

"We want them have fun, and to leave in awe of what is possible in the world of science and robotics.

“Australia is going to face some unique energy management and environmental challenges in the future, and it’s important we have our brightest and youngest minds engaged in solving them. If we inspire even one child to go on to a job in engineering, we will be very pleased!”

[Pictured alongside (L-R): Grace Lotorto, Schneider Electric’s David Gardner and Nathan Gardner.]

Irene Tsimos, UNSW Robogals Marketing Manager said: "It's too often the case that engineering is overlooked as a boring and difficult degree choice – especially by female students who have limited exposure to the field. Robogals is a way for us to share our passion for engineering in a fun and interactive way.

“This new partnership with Schneider Electric is a way of bridging the gap between school, degree and career. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to see how engineering lessons translate to the real world and inspires our volunteers as well – who are still learning and discovering their potential in the field."

Robogals has run workshops across Australia with a focus on introducing young women to engineering since 2008.